Shimla-The results of the by-polls 2021 in Himachal Pradesh for one Lok Sabha seat and three assembly seats have come as a huge blow not only to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party but also to the National President of the Party JP Nadda and Union Cabinet Minister Anurag Thakur as both hail from the Hill state. BJP not only lost on all seats, but one of its candidates – Neelam Seraik who was contesting from Jubbal-Kotkhai constituency- lost her deposit too. With this defeat, these by-polls also brought humiliation to the party.
Loss on Lok Sabha seat in Mandi – home district of Chief Minister Jairam Thakur-would definitely raise doubts over his capability as a leader to steer the party to win in the elections to be held next year.
Under his leadership, BJP faced resistance from rebels on all three assembly seats. The choice of candidate on the Jubbal-Kotkhai seat had already paved way for Congress. While on two seats – Arki and Fatehpur- the party managed to convince miffed leaders to not contest as independent candidates, it failed to convince Chetan Bragta. He fought as an independent candidate, for which he was expelled from the party for six years, and garnered more support than the BJP candidate.
Political analysts are of the view that rising prices of fuels and essential commodities swayed the results in favour of Congress. While the petrol price crossed Rs. 107 per litre mark, domestic LGP cylinder now costs over Rs. 1000.
At the same time, BJP leaders and Chief Minister, who addressed as many as 68 public meetings and rallies as part of the campaign and were claiming a win on all four seats on the basis of developmental works, found themselves helpless. BJP had announced that it would fight these by-polls on its achievements in the field of developmental works in the state. On the other hand, Congress targeted BJP on inflation and unemployment. Further, it can be said that public sentiments were in favour of Pratibha Singh after the demise of her husband and the veteran Congress leader Virbhadra Singh. Congress did exploit this sentiment in favour of Pratibha Singh, which was clear from its appeal to voters that asked for a tribute instead of a vote.
The results are a wake-up call for BJP as the public mood conveys that all is not well under the ruling government.
HP By-Polls 2021 Results
Congress candidate Pratibha Singh won the by-election for Mandi Parliamentary Constituency by getting 3,69,565 votes. BJP candidate Brigadier Khushal Chand Thakur got 3,62,075 votes, Ambika Shyam of Rashtriya Lokniti Party 3617 votes, Munshi Ram Thakur of Himachal Jankranti Party 1262 whereas Subhash Mohan Snehi got 1772 votes.
In the by-election for Fatehpur Assembly Constituency, Bhawani Singh Pathania of INC won the election by getting 24,449 votes whereas BJP candidate Baldev Thakur 18660, Pankaj Kumar Darshi of Himachal Jankranti Party 375, Independent candidate Dr. Ashok Kumar Somal 295 and Dr. Rajan Sushant got 12,927 votes.
In Jubbal-Kotkhai Assembly Constituency Rohit Thakur of INC registered victory by getting 29,955 votes. Neelam Saraik of BJP got 2644 votes, independent candidate Chetan Singh Bragta 23,662 votes and Suman Kadam 170 votes.
In the by-election for Arki Assembly Constituency, Sanjay Awasthi stood victorious by getting 30,790 votes. Ratan Singh Pal of BJP got 27,570 whereas Independent candidate Jeet Ram got 547 votes.
What Jairam Thakur Said on BJP’s Defeat
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said that he humbly accepts the verdict given by the people in the by-elections to one Lok Sabha seat and three Vidhan Sabha Constituencies of the State.
He said that these results were not according to our expectations. He said that Bharatiya Janta Party lost the Mandi Parliamentary seat with a narrow margin.
Jai Ram Thakur said that we would try to come up to the expectations and aspirations of the people of the State and would work with renewed zeal and dedication to perform better in general Assembly elections-2022.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.