New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is gearing up for the upcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections scheduled next year. In a recent brainstorming session which was attended by the top leadership of the state BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the party did a larger analysis of the performance of the government and how to prepare for the 2022 polls. The central leadership of the BJP is also closely following the developments and instructed the state unit to energise the cadre. The whole organizational set-up of the Sangh Parivar has also been activated by the BJP for its mission Himachal Pradesh. Political heat had gathered momentum in Shimla also due to the upcoming by-elections of Mandi Lok Sabha seat and the Fatehpur Assembly seat as it is seen by many in Himachal Pradesh as a litmus test for Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur in view of the change in guard in the states of Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttarakhand.

The bypolls which were expected to be held in May were deferred by the Election Commission (EC) in October in light of the second wave of the Covid pandemic. The Mandi parliamentary seat had fallen vacant after the death of two-time MP Ram Swaroop Sharma.

Recently, the Himachal unit of the BJP also launched a “Panchparameshwar campaign” to connect with the workers and voters of the state. In this “Panch Parmeshwar” campaign, the saffron party will connect with at least five people in each panchayat of the state. These workers will take the BJP government’s scheme to every corner of the state and help the party to gain momentum for the upcoming assembly polls. Political scientist and former professor of political science at Shimla University Anirudh Pratap Singh said: “The BJP has started preparations for the Assembly polls. However, before going ahead, the upcoming by-elections are crucial for the party in general and the chief minister in particular. For the CM, the Mandi parliamentary seat is very important, as it is his home district. Only victory will not be enough, the margin of victory will be analysed by the central leadership. Moreover, with the entry of Virbhadra Singh’s wife in fray, the election has become difficult for the BJP. The next couple of months will decide how the BJP does in next year’s elections. Moreover, the party’s national president Jagat Prakash Nadda is also from Himachal Pradesh, therefore, he would be also personally following the party’s preparations.”

In recent months, many meetings of the state core committee and the RSS brass have taken place. The general feeling is the party will be trying to strengthen its workers network in the coming three months. The saffron party is also planning to organize programmes for Panna Pramukhs, and will nominate workers to head the voter list. It is also said that the RSS had given the BJP leadership an agenda for the next one year to fix the gaps and sharpen its governance model.

Senior BJP leader and Member of Legislative Assembly Surendra Shourie said: “We have started preparation for the Assembly polls. The Panch Parmeshwar campaign is a unique programme of our party which will help us to connect with the 3,300 villages of the state. Our performance in the Lok Sabha elections was fantastic and the leadership of Narendra Modiji is accepted by everyone. Therefore, we are confident of repeating our 2017 Assembly elections performance. Moreover, the Congress is a divided house. They don’t have any vision and agenda for the state. While on the other side, we have vision, agenda, leadership and faith of the people. We have planned to organise a large-scale programme in the coming days to boost the morale of its workers and prepare them for upcoming elections.”

Himachal Pradesh has followed a pattern of alternating of government between the BJP and Congress since 1990. Whether BJP beats that trend in the next election is to be seen.