SHIMLA: The year now on its way out was an eventful one for Himachal Pradesh. For the first time it got a double representation in the Union Cabinet.
Though the party won just a single seat in the Lok Sabha out of four in the 2009 polls, it now has two berths in the Union Council of Ministers. Former Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma was given the portfolios of Commerce and Industry and Virbhadra Singh was later inducted as Union Steel Minister. But the real benefactor of the Lok Sabha elections and Congress bickering between two clear factions was the State Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal who had a smooth sailing inside and outside the Vidhan Sabha. The opposition Congress was in complete disarray and could hardly defend itself here since its former leader of the House, Mr. Singh, was shifted to Delhi. The FIRs launched against Virbhadra Singh and his wife by the State Vigilance and Corruption Bureau in the audio CD case also gave his opponents in the party a chance to undo his acknowledged status of the sole Congress leader here.
The Congress not only lost the Lok Sabha elections miserably but also lost its traditional stronghold Vidhan Sabha seat of Rohru vacated by Mr. Singh in a bye-election. Though the anti-Singh camp in Jawali claimed to have snatched the seat from BJP in the same bye-election this year.
By completely sidelining the supporters of former BJP stalwart Shanta Kumar within the party, Mr. Dhumal is enjoying an unchallenged status in the government as well as the party organisation. He is also enjoying a good rapport with the high command due to his performance in the Lok Sabha elections and taking Himachal to new heights in some developmental surveys of the small States.
Their was hardly any initiation of third front or party in the State despite untiring efforts by the CPI(M), which has become synonymous for protests on all issues relating to the general public. The party, which has a strong base among students and trade unions, is seeking penetration amongst the farmers and women now.