The change in state government of Himachal Pradesh after five years term of either of the two major political parties, i.e. the Congress and the BJP has become a norm after the ruling Congress’ hegemony was broken by the BJP in 1990 Assembly election in the state .
With change of power in 1990 a new trend of power rotation has emerged in the state and voters have been changing one party’s government after every five years.
The state had uninterrupted Congress rule till 1990 since the formation of Himachal Pradesh, with an exception of about two years rule of the Janata Party government when the Congress party was defeated throughout the country in the election held at national level and subsequent elections in several states after the emergency rule in the country. Congress had staged a come back in 1980 and remained in power till 1990.
The Congress party, having unbridled dominance in the hill state got a real challenge from the BJP- Janta Dal alliance in 1990, when the Congress government headed by Virbhadra Singh tested humiliating defeat at the hands of BJP- Janata Dal alliance.
After 1990 the Congress and the BJP have been coming to power on alternative basis in the state. In 1992 the BJP – Janta Dal alliance government was dismissed in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya and the state came under the president’s rule.
In 1993 Assembly election held in the state, the BJP- Janta Dal government headed by Shanta Kumar, which had faced employees’ and apple growers’ agitations , was humbled by the Congress . In all subsequent elections held after that the Congress and the BJP have been swapping power in the state. In the last election held in 2018 the BJP government headed by Jai Ram Thakur had come to power.
Though, the change of government after every five years has almost absorbed in the psyche of voters in Himachal Pradesh but swapping of power changes little for a common man.
A cross section of people feel, the most important outcome of the rotation of power puts an end to arrogance of ruling party leaders in the government to some extent. This is true in a sense since long tenure in power definitely makes them arrogant and ouster from power mellows them.
Commenting on the rotation of power in the state a veteran journalist comments, “In Himachal Pradesh the change of power actually does not change much except faces and the voters have been changing the government to get rid of one party rule.”
“The main thrust of ruling party remains sharing power with party leaders and effort to generate support for the next election through populists’ measures, slew of welfare and development schemes and on the negativity of their adversaries,” he adds.
Another reason for this change is discontentment among different sections like farmers, government employees, traders and unemployed youths growing since last many years, which results into disenchantment with the government of the day and an urge to change the ruling party in the hope of better opportunities. Political change at national level also impacts the election outcome in the state.
Former professor in political science department of HP University Rajender Chauhan says, “Both parties have been doing development works as per their priority but nothing changes much at policy level except power swapping among a set of politicians, political workers, chosen mandarins and favorites of the ruling party”.
“Nearly two lakh state government employees have been playing important role in the change of the government who act as opinion makers, many of them victims of one government or the other, lobby to change the government and draw benefits like prized postings etc,”he adds.
One of the top leader of a party commented on the condition of not mentioning his name, “The change of power puts a break on arrogant and corrupt leaders and gives opportunity to change anti-people policies and adopt welfare measure according to priority of the ruling party but in fact a set of about two thousand people always remain active in every government.”