Himachal Pradesh: 'Queen' Kangana Outshines Royal Dynast Vikramaditya In Mandi As BJP Scores Hattrick

The resounding victory in the Lok Sabha seats has not only proved BJP’s dominance in the lone Congress-ruled state of the North but also marks its comeback in the hill state.

Mandi: BJP leader Jairam Thakur with party candidate Kangana Ranaut during celebrations as the latter was leading amid counting of votes for Lok Sabha elections on June 4, 2024 in Mandi Photo: - PTI

Maintaining the past trend of the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections, voters in Himachal Pradesh—a state known for astuteness in politics, once again voted for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the elections to four Lok Sabha seats, marking a ‘hat-trick’  for the party, which had lost power to the Congress 17 months back in the 2022 assembly polls.

The resounding victory in the Lok Sabha seats has not only proved BJP’s dominance in the lone Congress-ruled state of the North but also marks its comeback in the hill state.

Himachal Pradesh winners

The prominent winners include Bollywood “Queen” Kangana Ranaut from Mandi, who defeated royal scion and son of six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, by 74,755 votes in the passionately contested Lok Sabha election in Himachal Pradesh –watched eagerly because of Kangana’s celebrity status.

Anurag Thakur, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting marked a splendid victory at Hamirpur for the fifth successive election defeating Congress’s Satpal Raizada—a former MLA, by a record 1.82 lakh votes.

The most humiliating defeat for the Congress was in Kangra, touted as Himachal Pradesh’s political capital where party heavyweight Anand Sharma, a former union minister, lost to Dr Rajeev Bhardwaj of the BJP, a first-timer by 2.51 lakh votes.

The prestigious Shimla Parliamentary constituency (reserved) was again retained by the BJP’s sitting MP Suresh Kashyap, who defeated Congress’s Vinod Sultanpuri, a first-time MLA, causing a huge blow to the Congress in the state’s capital.

Himachal by-polls results

Yet, in a highly significant way, the main outcome of these polls comes from ruling Congress's victory in the six by-elections held simultaneously with the Parliamentary polls. The Congress, surprisingly, managed to win back four seats of a total of six constituencies, giving a fresh leave of life to Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu—whose survival has been at stake because of the disqualification of six rebel MLAs.

“By winning four bypolls Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu – state’s first-time Chief Minister, has managed to sail his government through the troubled water. The strength of the Congress in the House will increase from the existing 34 (one less than a majority) to 38. This is a blow to the BJP’s game plan to pull the rags under his feet after its attempt failed early this year,” says Professor Shashi Kant Sharma, Head of the Journalism and Mass Communication department at Himachal Pradesh University.

When Congress formed its government under Sukhu in December 2023, the party had a strength of 40 MLAs besides three independents supporting it. 

But instability hit the Congress government due to an open rebellion in the party, after six rebels cross-voted in the February 27 Rajya Sabha polls. BJP’s Harsh Mahajan won the Rajya Sabha seat despite 40 MLAs backing Congress against 25 of the BJP.  The Sukhu government virtually fell to its knees and was on the verge of collapse. But, it survived nonetheless.

The six rebels were disqualified from the House by Speaker Kuldeep Pathania for cross-voting. Although they could not get relief from the High Court and the Supreme Court, they were given party tickets for re-election by the “lotus” symbol and hoped to return to the House in saffron colours.

Even when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a poll rally at Mandi in favour of Kangana Ranaut, he publicly declared that the Congress government in the state would not last long and there would be a BJP government in place soon.  

But the 15-month-old Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu government secured a clear majority in the House. The Congress candidates –viz Capt Ranjit Singh won Sujanpur, three-time former MLA Rakesh Kalia won Gagret, Anuradha Rana was elected from Lahaul Spiti, and Vivek Sharma won Kutlehar. Four seats seem to have given oxygen to the Sukhu government, at least for now.

Notably, of six by-polls, four were within the Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency and home district of the Chief Minister. This discreet slogan went around the constituency ahead of the poll – one vote for PM and one vote for CM – to ensure that Sukhu would not lose his Chief Ministerial chair. While people voted for Modi in the Lok Sabha, they chose Congress candidates in the by-polls for Sukhu's sake.

Interesting contests

Two seats are to be mentioned here.

Dharamshala where former minister Sudhir Sharma was contesting on the BJP ticket defeated Divender Jaggi, a former mayor.

Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, a three-time MLA who was also one of the six disqualified MLAs, retained his seat in Barsar, though now as BJP candidate.


The elections in Himachal Pradesh, a bipolar state, were a straight contest between the BJP and Congress though Bahujan Samaj Party had also fielded its candidates on all four seats.

The most watched seat this time turned out to be Mandi because BJP decided to field Kangana Ranaut—a Hindutva voice in the film industry known for her successful Bollywood career, Padamshree, and four national film awards.

She projected herself as the “Daughter of Himachal” to strike a chord with women and youths in the constituency—one of the largest ones in India while facing Vikramaditya Singh, a cabinet minister and “titular king “ of the erstwhile princely state of Rampur Bushahr.


Significantly, his father was a three-time MP and his mother a sitting MP and PCC president, gave up her spot to field her son as the most appropriate “winnable” choice against Kangana.

Kangana Ranaut and Anurag Thakur's victory

Contesting for the first time, Kangana embarked upon a highly volatile campaign (as per her outspoken character driven by her film roles as powerful women), targeting Vikramaditya Singh as “Bigra Hua Shehzada and Chhota Pappu.” 

Vikramaditya had also raised issues relating to her eating habits, wearing traditional outfits of different areas as if she was "doing a film shoot" and even asking for cleaning and washing of temples wherever she had visited. This evoked sharp reactions from her side.


Responding to Vikramaditya’s charge that she would soon return to Bollywood, Kangana asserted, “Yeh tumhare baap-dada ki riyasat nahin hai, ke tum mujhe dara, dhamka ke vapis bhej doge (This is not the estate of your father or grandfather that you will threaten me and send me back).”

In the entire election campaign, former Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who enjoys a vast influence in Mandi, remained by her side and made the BJP victory possible despite her facing “black flags” by Congress workers at Spiti in one of her rallies.

On winning the poll, Kangana Ranaut said, "As far as my departure to Mumbai is concerned, this (Himachal Pradesh) is my 'janmabhoomi' and I will continue to serve people here. I have always said that I will work as a soldier in PM Narendra Modi's goal of 'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas. Perhaps, someone else will have to pack their bags and leave. I am not going anywhere." 


Earlier she also offered prayers at her residence and took to her official X handle to post pictures with her mother and said, "Mother is the form of God, today my mother is feeding me curd and sugar."

Anurag Thakur’s victory for the fifth time is also seen as a vindication of the fact that despite his father Prem Kumar Dhumal, a two-time former Chief Minister, being side-lined in the state (after missing his third Chief Minister role in 2017 to Jairam Thakur), his influence remains in hold at Hamirpur.

Modi factor

Largely it was the Modi factor that helped the BJP make a clean sweep in Himachal Pradesh even as the party targeted the state Congress government for its alleged failure to fulfill its promise of Rs 1500 per month to women between the ages of 18 and 60, one lakh jobs to youths and buy cow-dung and milk. The Congress not projecting a Prime Ministerial face, like Modi was for the BJP, also became the ruling party's disadvantage.


The state saw its worst-ever natural calamities in the last few years and relief works were also a major issue. The BJP accused the government of irregularities in the disbursement of money sent by the Centre while Sukhu and his party kept accusing the Centre of not granting special packages and supporting the relief efforts.