ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections 2022

A Trendsetter for 2024 General Elections

Turning down the narrative of “double engine” government, Himachal Pradesh once again voted Congress in with a thumping majority of seats. The Congress’s win can be attributed to a series of factors such as the promise of old pension scheme for about 1,50,000 employees, anti-incumbency linked to poor performance of the Jai Ram Thakur government, and intra-party factionalism in Bharatiya Janata Party. The thesis that India has gone down the path of “de jure majoritarianism” from “de facto majoritarianism” since 2019 receives a setback with the Congress’s victory in HP. This election also proved that the party system of HP remains predominantly a two-party system and there is lesser space for a third party like the Aam Aadmi Party which could only secure less than 1% votes.

The landscape of Indian elections has registered a paradigm shift from the erstwhile tangible material factors to the non-material ones. The declaration of the post-1989 phase as a “post-Congress phase” was too hasty and it sounded more relevant after the 2014 parliamentary elections when the Congress was reduced to a mere 44 seats. After a quarter century of coalition politics, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) victory in 2014 heralded a new era in Indian politics where the BJP assumed a central role that the Congress had once played. E Sridharan (2014) even observed that the electoral patterns of the last quarter-century in India have undergone a sea change, and the world’s largest democracy now has what appears to be a new party system headed by a newly dominant party.

From the general election in 1952 until 2014, India’s electoral history can roughly be divided into three orders: the Congress dominance period, the coalition era, and the BJP dominance period. According to Yogendra Yadav (1999), the Congress provided a pan-Indian representation for India’s diverse caste, linguistic, and religious groups and the opposition forces were badly fragmented. The year 1967 proved to be a critical inflection point, ushering in the dawn of India’s second party system, although the Congress remained dominant even then, except for the small post-emergency stint of two and a half years. “Three powerful forces—often termed ‘Mandal, Masjid, and Market’—disrupted Indian politics, giving way to a multipolar constellation of forces in which the Congress was no longer the single party around which politics revolved” (Vaishnav and Hintson 2019). After these elections, while the thesis forwarded by Jafferlot and Verniers (2020) that after the 2019 mammoth BJP win, Indian politics has entered a phase of “de jure majoritarianism” from the previous “de facto majoritarianism” has received a setback, the strong comeback by the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Himachal Pradesh (HP) and Punjab sets a new trend in Indian politics before the 2024 general elections.

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Updated On : 22nd May, 2023
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