The much-needed revival for the Congress owes to the vikas factor

December 11, 2022 07:26 pm | Updated December 12, 2022 11:50 am IST

Congress candidate Sunder Singh Thakur celebrates his win with supporters in Kullu on December 8, 2022.

Congress candidate Sunder Singh Thakur celebrates his win with supporters in Kullu on December 8, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The BJP’s over-reliance on the “Double Engine Ki Sarkar” and a growing rebellion in the State unit have given victory to the grand old party. The much-needed revival for the Congressowes to the vikas factor. According to the Lokniti-CSDS post-poll survey, when voters were asked which issue had mattered to them the most while voting, without being probed further with any options, over two-fifths spontaneously said development.

In the 2017 election, the proportion of those who mentioned development as the main issue was just 19%, bringing the overall surge to a high of 42% in the current election.

The findings also show that voters had mixed feelings about the government’s performance over the past five years. While the government was seen as performing well in key governance parameters, people were more likely to be critical on issues such as roads, health, and education.

On being asked whether the condition of electricity in the State had improved or deteriorated in the past 5 years, three-fourths responded in affirmative. Their opinion of drinking water was slightly less favourable, with more than two-thirds reporting an improvement. Voters were less impressed with the condition of roads due to poor road infrastructure and connectivity, with over 25% of villages having no road links. Nonetheless, they were also more likely to believe that the situation had improved rather than worsened.

However, when it came to assessing the condition of government schools and hospitals, while government schools fared better, the condition of government hospitals was at the heart of discontent. The health infrastructure in Himachal Pradesh is under severe strain. With a shortage of doctors, poor road connections, and a lack of basic medical infrastructure, the problem of access to health services in the hills does not end well.

From the beginning itself, theBJP was banking on “Double Engine Ki Sarkar to which, when voters were asked their opinions, over two-fifths responded in affirmative. Despite that, the Congress was voted to power, working on local agendas. Development has been the most important determinant while voting, followed by price rise, and unemployment, overshadowing the BJP’s contest for “Double Engine Ki Sarkar”.

(Jagmeet Bawa teaches at Central University of Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala, and Vanshika Sharma is a researcher at Lokniti-CSDS)

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