The Left has made a comeback in Himachal Pradesh after a gap of 24 years, winning Theog assembly seat, which is considered a Congress stronghold.
Rakesh Singha of the CPI (M), won the seat by a margin of 1,983 seats. BJP’s Rakesh Verma came second, while the Congress finished a distant third.
In 1993, Mr. Singha had won from Shimla. This is the fourth time that CPI (M) has managed to send a legislator to the Shimla assembly — 1967, 1977 and 1993 being the last three.
“It is a significant achievement for the CPI (M). We managed to squeeze out a seat in such a polarised atmosphere,” CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told The Hindu .
In Theog, CPI (M) had led many movements including on law and order following rape and murder of a teenager in the area.
“The fact is that CPI (M) was seen as fighting force capable of protecting people’s interest,” Mr. Yechury added.
Mr Singha, incidentally, is the nephew of 8-time Congress MLA Vidya Stokes. Ms Stokes, was denied ticket by Congress. She still went ahead and filed nomination. Her nomination papers were however rejected for inaccuracies. As per his claims, his great grandfather Gopichand Singha introduced apple cultivation to the region.
“More than CPI (M) factor we feel that we won Theog thanks to Mr Singha’s personal influence and the fact that Ms Vidya Stokes was no longer in race. Which means we still have a lot of work to do in the state,” a senior CPI (M) leader said.
Other than Theog, the party has little reason to cheer. It was hoping to put a strong fight in seven seats but it has managed to get only 1.5 per cent of total voteshare. In 2012, the CPI (M) had created a buzz by winning both Mayor and Deputy Mayor posts in Shimla Municipality. However, in Shimla, former mayor Sanjay Chauhan got a little over 3,000 votes, trailing on third position behind Congress rebel. The seat has been won by the BJP over 2,000 votes.
“In Shimla, we were hurt by anti-incumbency against the corporation. We promised a credible opposition to Himachal Pradesh and which is what we are going to deliver. Our movement which was limited to outside assembly will be echo in there too,” CPI (M) state chief Omkar Shah said.