On the day of the counting there were wins for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh. While the BJP made a clean sweep on the four Lok Sabha seats, the Congress managed to win four of the six Assembly by-polls and make the state government survive.

The people smartly decided to go with the winning combination at the Centre, and expressed their anger at the move to destabilise the government in the month of March. The elections were a two layered phenomenon in the state, and the survival of the state government took precedence.

In the Lok Sabha results, Mandi, which was the most high profile seat in the state, the BJP candidate and Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut defeated the state cabinet minister Vikramaditya Singh by a margin of 74,755 votes. Vikramaditya is the son of the state’s former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

Ranaut was handpicked as a candidate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP poll machinery headed by former CM Jai Ram Thakur was tasked with burning the midnight oil to ensure her victory.

Known for her controversial remarks and claims, Ranaut did not disappoint the people during her election campaign as well. A ‘parachute candidate’, she is yet to learn the ropes of the tricks that make politics a successful career.

In the Shimla parliamentary seat, BJP’s Suresh Kashyap defeated the Congress candidate and sitting legislator Vinod Sultanpuri by 91,451 votes.

Hamirpur constituency proved to be a cakewalk for the sitting MP Union Minister Anurag Thakur. He is the son of former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal. Thakur registered his fifth consecutive victory by defeating Congress’ Satpal Raijzda by 1,82,357 votes.

The Congress gamble of fielding Anand Sharma , a party heavyweight with no ground connection in Kangra, against BJP’s Rajiv Bhardwaj failed. Sharma lost by a margin of 2,51,895 votes.

What worked for the BJP in the Lok Sabha election was the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was once the organisational secretary in the state. The party candidates had campaigned solely on Modi’s name, along with the issue of Ram temple in Ayodhya. In Mandi both the candidates were out to prove who was a “bigger Hindu” between them.

After her victory in Mandi, Ranaut said in a social media post, “Heartfelt gratitude to all Mandi residents for this support, this love and trust. This victory is of all of you, this is the victory of faith in Prime Minister Modi and BJP, this is victory of Sanatan, this is the victory of honour of Mandi.”

After his loss, Vikramaditya said that although he did not get success in these elections, he is fully dedicated to his vision of development of Mandi parliamentary constituency and will fulfil it at all costs. He added that victory and defeat in elections are two sides of the same coin.

After the BJP registered a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha polls, Jai Ram Thakur took to social media saying, “My heartfelt gratitude and congratulations to all the family members of my state for giving their full blessings to all the four Lok Sabha candidates of the BJP.”

Meanwhile, the state Congress chief and outgoing Mandi MP Pratibha Singh while accepting the party's defeat in four Lok Sabha elections in the state, said that in a democracy “public opinion is paramount” and she respected it completely.

Singh said that the Congress fought this election strongly and the party has never backed down from its responsibility and will never do so. She said that the election results did not come as per expectations and a review will be done to find out what was lacking.

She urged the party workers not to lower their morale in any way and said that there are wins and losses in elections, so they need not be discouraged in any way.

Singh expressed hope that the victorious BJP candidates would make a significant contribution to the development of the state in accordance with public aspirations.

Meanwhile, the Congress has managed to hold on to power in the state Assembly by winning four of the six seats in the by-polls. These by-polls were necessitated by the suspension of its six MLAs who had crossed over to the BJP after voting against the party candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls in February this year, and defying the party whip on the voting on the Finance Bill.

After their departure the Congress strength had been reduced to 34 in the 68 member house. The BJP had fielded all six of these Congress imports.

Meanwhile, the state will soon see by-polls on three other Assembly seats as the Speaker accepted the resignation of three Independents a couple of days ago. These independents were looking to contest on a BJP ticket in by-polls alongside the Lok Sabha elections after resigning. However, their plans were cleverly thwarted by the Speaker by delaying the acceptance of their resignations and the matter going to the High Court.

The BJP candidate Sudhir Sharma won by a margin of 5526 votes over his Congress rival Devender Singh Jaggi on Dharamshala seat. The second seat won by the BJP is Barsar where the party’s Inder Dutt Lakhanpal won against Subhash Chand of the Congress by 2125 votes.

Anuradha Rana, the Congress candidate in the Lahaul-Spiti Assembly seat won against her nearest rival independent candidate Dr. Ram Lal Markanda by a margin of 1960 votes. The BJP candidate was relegated to the third place here.

In Sujanpur, the Congress candidate Captain Ranjit Singh Rana defeated the BJP’s Rajender Singh Rana by 2440 votes. In Kutlehar, the Congress candidate Vivek Sharma defeated BJP’s Devender Kumar Bhutto by 4887 votes. In Gagret, Congress’ Rakesh Kalia defeated the BJP’s Chaitanya Sharma by a margin of 8487 votes.

For the by-polls, the Congress under Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu had campaigned seeking punishment for turncoats who had tried to destabilise a popularly elected government in the state.

The votes were sought claiming that these turncoats had betrayed the masses after being elected on a Congress manifesto. The general mood of the public was also against this type of politics taking roots in the state.

Congratulating the winners, Pratibha Singh said their victory has further strengthened the Congress government in the state and has proved that the people of the state are strongly with the Congress government.

Sukhu while saying that the credit for the victory in the Assembly by-elections went to the hard work of the Congress party workers added that the workers will now have to move step by step and face the challenge of the BJP strongly.

He said the BJP was repeatedly claiming that it would be forming the government in Himachal Pradesh on June 4 but the people have rejected the politics of horse-trading and the public power has failed the BJP's ‘Operation Lotus’.

Sukhu said the Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly by-elections were fought on different issues. He claimed that despite the Lok Sabha loss, the vote percentage of the Congress has increased by 14 % this time as compared to 2019. He said that in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress got 27.53 in 2019 which has now increased to 41.67 %.

He claimed the BJP’s vote share has come down from 69.71 % votes in 2019 to 56.44%. He also claimed that the people of the state have approved the 14-month tenure of the state government and its policies.