New Delhi, Dec. 20: The presence of rebel candidates and “internal sabotage” are being cited as the main reasons for the BJP’s defeat in Himachal Pradesh.
Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Arun Jaitley, who was involved in the election process, conceded that there were “too many rebels” in the fray. “Had we been able to put our house in order, we would have won,” he claimed.
The needle of suspicion pointed to former chief minister Shanta Kumar, who represents the state’s powerful Brahmin lobby.
Sources said Kumar, who comes from the apple-growing region of Kangra, had allegedly asked his nominees to fight as Independents once they were denied tickets by chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, a Thakur.
Four of the six rebels won.
The Kangra losses were not compensated by the other regions.
The BJP, which had banked on winning over women voters, had promised free induction stoves to beat the LPG cap and fuel price hike. But it did not work.
The party read a larger message in the Himachal reverse. “It proves that corruption and price rise, did not work despite our efforts to work them up as big issues. What mattered were local issues, the candidates, etc.,” a source said.
Sources admitted that the BJP’s endeavour to emerge as a national alternative to the Congress had been nixed by the verdict from the hills.
Unlike the result in another hill state, Uttarakhand, that the BJP lost to the Congress by only one seat, the Himachal outcome was more decisive, they said.