The Indian National Congress seems to have got a clear mandate in Himachal Pradesh, with the incumbent Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur accepting the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) defeat.
In an attempt to battle out anti-incumbency, both the BJP and the Congress denied tickets to existing MLAs and instead brought in fresh faces.
Disappointed with their parties, several leaders contested as Independent candidates, further denting the BJP's vote share in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.
At present, two rebel candidates have defeated the BJP, while nine other candidates in the constituencies of Banjar, Bilaspur, Fatehpur Jawalamukhi, Pachhad, Sullah, and Theog are making the BJP suffer a minor loss in its vote share.
3 Independents Win in Himachal Pradesh
Hoshiyar Singh, who is the sitting MLA from Dehra, contested the previous 2017 elections as an Independent. On the insistence of Thakur, Singh joined the BJP in 2022, seeking a ticket.
However, after being denied a ticket, he contested the elections as an Independent candidate yet again, defeating his rivals Rajesh Sharma of the Congress and Ramesh Dhawala of the BJP.
As of now, Hoshiyar Singh has got 37.96 percent of the vote share.
Ashish Sharma contested as an Independent candidate after being denied a ticket from the Congress. The rebel leader took on the BJP's Narinder Thakur and the Congress' Pushpinder Verma, and defeated them by getting 47.09 percent of the vote share.
KL Thakur, who lost the previous election from Solan's Nalagarh was denied a ticket from the BJP, forcing him to contest the election as an Independent.
Despite being a rebel BJP leader, Thakur received 44.51 percent of the vote share, wherein he easily outnumbered Hardeep Singh Bawa of the Congress and Lakhvinder Singh Rana of the BJP.
BJP Candidates Win but Suffer Due to Split in Vote Share
Meanwhile, in Jawalamukhi constituency, the BJP rebel candidate, Atul Chaudhary, who contested as an Independent candidate, got 15.89 percent of the vote share, making it easy for the Congress' Sanjay Rattan to overtake Ravinder Singh Ravi of the BJP, who got 35.78 percent of the votes.
Similarly, in Fatehpur, the BJP lost to the Congress and suffered due to rebel candidate Kripal Parmar, who refused to quit even after a reported phone call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the 63-year-old Independent candidate is in the third position in this race. He got 4.38 percent of the votes in the election.
Likewise, in the constituencies of Banjar and Bilaspur, thanks to the contesting Independent candidates Hiteshwar Singh and Subash Sharma, the BJP suffered a split in its vote share, but has ensured victory by a small margin.
In the reserved seat of Pachhad too, the BJP candidate Reena Kashyap won the election by getting 34.52 percent of the votes. However, Independent candidate and BJP rebel Gangu Ram Musafir took 21.46 percent of the votes, further shrinking the BJP's footprint.
(All the figures and data points have been taken from the Election Commission of India Website)