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The sweep in the recently held bypolls has opened up a window of opportunity for Congress in Himachal Pradesh and encouraged party leaders to put up a challenge against BJP in the assembly elections scheduled to held next year, said Vikramaditya Singh, Congress leader, and son of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

Vikramaditya has been credited with the victory of his mother Pratibha Singh from Mandi, till now seen as a stronghold of BJP and more particularly, state chief minister Jai Ram Thakur.

Pointing out to some of the reasons, which worked in favour of Congress this election, Vikramaditya in conversation with News said, “The rate of unemployment is at its highest in the state.” Rough estimates suggest that around four-and-a-half lakh youths are unemployed in the state, said Singh adding that apple growers, the mainstay of Himachal economy, are “unhappy with the price that they are getting for their produce”.

“Talks of double engine fall flat when you are not able to sort out long-pending demands,” said Vikramaditya. The Centre could have helped the state government by addressing the concerns of the apple growers, he added.

Speaking about the legacy of Congress stalwart Virbhadra Singh, he said, “People still remember his pro-Himachal policies and not the kind that the present CM says.” The present CM speaks only about Mandi but the people of Himachal want the kind of governance that was led by Singh and that was one of the reasons that Pratibha Singh has been elected.

Trashing BJP claims that Pratibha had won on a ‘sympathy’ factor, Vikramaditya said, “The Lok Sabha constituency of Mandi covers at least 17 assembly constituencies so that is a reflection of the kind of disgruntlement and resentment against the ruling party.” He said victory in the other assembly seats like Jubbal-Kotkhai and Arki were also a shot in the arm for the Congress. Bypolls happened in other parts of the country as well but it has not been favourable for the Congress the way it has been in Himachal.

Vikramaditya said this victory should also serve as a cue to the Congress leadership in New Delhi. “The AICC should take note and decide the election strategy accordingly for the assembly elections. They should ensure no infighting happens and choose the right leaders to lead the party,” he stressed.

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