BJP candidate from Dharamsala Kishan Kapoor celebrates
BJP candidate from Dharamsala Kishan Kapoor celebrates with his supporters outside a counting center in Dharmsala. Photo by Shyam Sharma / Hindustan Times
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How did women, dynasts, independents and multiple-term MLAs for the Congress and the BJP fare in the Himachal Pradesh elections? ThePrint does some digging.

Chandigarh: The results are in, the BJP has won, and the only headache it has left is who to appoint as chief minister of Himachal Pradesh.

A three-member BJP team of Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Tomar, along with Himachal BJP in-charge Mangal Pandey, will visit the state Wednesday to deliberate with the party’s 44 elected MLAs, and choose a CM after the designated candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal, lost the election from Sujanpur.

But once they’ve agreed upon a name, here’s what the rest of the House will look like.

CM front-runner

Sources say a consensus is emerging over Jai Ram Thakur (52), the newly-elected MLA from Seraj in Mandi district. A former cabinet minister in the Prem Kumar Dhumal government (2007-2012), he was also state party president.

A five-time MLA, Thakur won his first election in 1998 from Chachiot (now delimited). The BJP’s stellar performance in Mandi district, winning nine of the 10 seats, is being credited to Thakur’s leadership. The fact that he is also aligned with the RSS goes in his favour.

Old-timers set to be part of cabinet

Several other BJP old-timers have made it to the new assembly. Seven-time MLA Mahender Singh Thakur, five-time MLA Kishan Kapoor, four-time legislator Virender Kanwar, and three-time winner Suresh Bhardwaj from Shimla are expected to be a part of the cabinet.

Key opposition leaders

The opposition is likely to be led by outgoing chief minister Virbhadra Singh of the Congress, which won 21 seats in the 68-seat assembly. Singh will be in the Himachal assembly for the eighth time; he’s been winning polls since 1985.

Accompanying him will be Harshvardhan Chauhan, now a five-time MLA. Other senior Congress members include four-time MLA Jagat Singh Negi, and three-time legislator Nand Lal. Most of the other Congress MLAs are second-timers.

The biggest loss for the Congress has been that of eight-time MLA and Virbhadra’s rival Kaul Singh Thakur, who lost from Darang for only the second time since 1977. Another rival, four-time MLA G.S. Bali, lost the Nagrota seat for the first time since 1998.

However, another opponent of Virbhadra in the party, three-time legislator Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, won from Nadaun.

The CPI(M) is also represented in the assembly for the first time since 1993 – its candidate Rakesh Sangha won the Theog seat.

Two independents

In the 1967 state elections, Himachal Pradesh voters had sent 16 independent candidates to the assembly. This year, just two independent candidates have won.

Prakash Rana won the significant Jogindernagar seat, defeating seven-time BJP MLA Gulab Singh Thakur. Hoshyar Singh, meanwhile, won in Dehra, defeating senior BJP leader and sitting MLA Ravinder Singh Ravi.

The vote share garnered by independent candidates also fell from over 12 per cent in 2012 to a little over 6 per cent in these polls.

Women’s representation

The new assembly features four women, one more than last time. Out of the three women candidates fielded by the Congress, only senior leader Asha Kumari won the Dalhousie seat. Congress Rajya Sabha member Viplove Thakur lost from Dehra.

Vidya Stokes, the grand old lady of the Himachal Congress, will also not be in the assembly for the first time since 1977. Stokes (89) had opted not to contest the polls this time, only to be forced to file her nomination papers at the last minute. Her papers were, however, rejected.

The BJP had fielded six women candidates, three of whom won. Sarveen Chaudhary is now a four-time MLA. Reeta Dhiman, who lost the last elections, won from Indora this time, while newcomer Kamlesh Kumari won in Bhoranj.

BJP’s state women’s wing chief Indu Goswami lost from Palampur.

How dynasts fared 

Virbhadra’s son Vikramaditya Singh won his debut assembly election from the Shimla Rural seat vacated by his father. They are also the oldest and the youngest members of the new assembly – at 83 and 28 years of age respectively.

Ashish Butail, son of sitting MLA and former assembly Speaker Brij Behari Lal Butail, won from Palampur.

Anil Sharma, a former minister in the Virbhadra cabinet and son of former Union telecom minister Sukh Ram, won from Mandi defeating Champa Thakur, daughter of Kaul Singh Thakur. Sharma had switched sides to the BJP ahead of the polls.

Aditya Vikram Singh, son of former Congress minister Karan Singh, lost from Banjar seat.

Close contests

The closest contest was at Kinnaur, where Congress MLA Jagat Singh Negi defeated Tejwant Negi of the BJP by just 120 votes. In Barsar, Congress MLA Inder Dutt Lakhanpal won by 439 votes.

Two-time MLA Rajeev Saizal of the BJP won the Kasauli seat by a margin of 442 votes. In the last assembly polls, his victory margin was 24 votes. The loser, then and now, is Congress candidate Vinod Sultanpuri.

The highest margin of victory was 15,896 votes in Nachan, where BJP MLA Vinod Kumar won.

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