Himachal Pradesh goes to polls on Saturday, November
12. The tiny hill state on the giant Himalayan foothills has had a record of
stable governance over the last five years. While Jai Ram Thakur-led Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) stand as favourites in the polls, the state does have a
record of voting out incumbent governments every term. Thus, the BJP can hardly
be complacent.

Meanwhile Congress, the principal opposition party
in Himachal, at least on paper, will be looking to turn its ruinous recent
election record. With a new Congress president in charge in the form of
Mallikarjun Kharge, the results of the Himachal elections will show that
internal polls and Rahul Gandhi’s various attempts to build the Congress anew
have had any degree of success.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has been a
reluctant player in the Himachal campaign, has at least established itself as a
viable party in north India following its Punjab victory. The Kejriwal-led
party does not seem to be in a position to seek government, but may well play a
key role in a state with 68 Assembly constituencies in case there is a close contest.

Himachal Pradesh will be voting on these five broad
issues in the 2022 Assembly elections:

Old Pension Scheme

A revival of the old pension scheme is a
critical issue in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the two states going to
polls over the last two months of 2022. Government employees’ unions have
sought a return to OPS instead of the Union government’s new National Pension System
(NPS). In Himachal, a revival of OPS is a key political issue. The Congress has
promised to return to the OPS if the party is voted into power.

Uniform Civil Code

The BJP has once again pledged a Uniform Civil
(UCC) if it gets voted into power in Himachal. The Uniform Civil Code,
that removes the religion-based criteria on laws governing marriage and family,
has been a key electoral issue for BJP in the hill states – Uttarakhand and
Himachal Pradesh. This time, BJP has formed a committee to process how the
Uniform Civil Code can be implemented in the state and is a critical promise by
the party.

Agnipath Scheme

The Union government’s Agnipath scheme that creates
an effectively contractual wing of the Indian Army faced immense protests in
Himachal Pradesh. Army jobs are popular among Himachal’s youth. While the state
is already struggling with high unemployment numbers, the contractualisation of
the Indian Army’s recruitment process is expected to weigh heavily on young
voters of the state.

Apple farming

Lakhs of people in Himachal Pradesh work in the
apple farming industry. The high altitude coupled with the Himalayan terrain
makes Himachal fertile ground for apple agriculture. However, through the
years, the industry has suffered significantly. Weather fluctuations and rising
fuel costs have made it difficult to farm apples. Additionally, big agriculture
industries entering the market has eaten into the profitability pie. The
governance of the apple farming industry will be an issue people will vote on
in the 2022 state elections.


Roads are always a key issue in elections in
hill states. Nearly 39% villages in Himachal Pradesh lack adequate road
connectivity, according to various surveys. The BJP has promised to upgrade
3,125 kilometres of roadways in the state. Road infrastructure is closely tied
to Himachal’s tourism economy. Therefore, Himachal’s electorate is quite likely
to vote on roads this election.