January 31, 2021

HP: Local Body Elections 2021, CPI(M) Wins More Seats than Last Time

Onkar Shad

ELECTIONS for urban and rural local bodies in Himachal Pradesh were held in the month of January 2021 (poll dates were 17th, 19th and January 21, 2021).  Except for the tribal areas of Lahaul & Spiti and Chamba districts elections were held in all the remaining parts of the state. Poll results were declared on January 22, 2021.

Performance of candidates supported by CPI(M)(elections in Himachal are not contested on party symbols) in this election was very good as many Party and mass organisation leaders (including several Party and mass organisation whole timers) got elected to various posts with huge margins. In all, 12 zila parishad(ZP) members, 25 panchayat samiti members, 28 panchayat pradhans, 30 vice-pradhans and 242 ward members got elected out of candidates announced by the Party. These seats are from across the state. Several candidates who could not win remained at second and third positions and secured a good number of votes.

During the last elections, several ZP members and gram panchayat pradhans had got elected and their performance and development-oriented approach led to the building of people’s faith in Party leadership. Our elected representatives were working in the rural areas and were building agitation and movements around the local as well as larger issues concerning the farming sector, health and education and they are well accepted as leaders by the rural people. There is wider acceptability of our activists who are working in the area as they are working with limited resources. This has enhanced the scope of expanding the Party in rural areas. It is worth mentioning here that 90 per cent of the population in Himachal resides in rural areas.

The Party started preparation three months before the election. All the local committees and district committees started local level preparation in advance. The seats to be contested were selected from the areas where Party and mass organisations had its presence and the candidates were announced immediately after the announcement of election roaster. It was decided in the Party to field candidates in the limited seats so as to utilise resources judiciously.

Apart from the local issues related to unemployment, health and education focus of the campaign was on the three anti-farm laws and could build an environment against the BJP. The campaign was also raised to announce minimum support price(MSP) for the fruits, vegetables, milk, flowers and cereals like maize. These issues attracted the people especially the youth voters and a large percentage of winning candidates are youth. In Himachal, elections are not contested on Party symbols and factors like region, caste, kinship, relationship and local contradictions plays a vital role.

Panchayati raj system in Himachal Pradesh is infested by deep-rooted corruption in development works especially MGNREGA, which is ill-managed and improperly implemented. There is a positive image of Party leadership among people and they are considered honest and people feel that they will bring corruption free development in the panchayats. It is also felt that these leaders will organise struggles to resolve the various issues of the people. Thus, people of Himachal placed huge faith in the Party and its candidates and voted in their favour. The Party in the state has to work and plan effectively to build the capacity of elected representatives and ensure people-oriented development along with utilising this opportunity to expand the base of Party and mass organisations. There is a challenge for winning candidates to build Party and mass organisations as they tend to get burdened with panchayat development works. There is a huge possibility of getting success in local self-government (LSGs) if there is systematic and focused work.