Himachal Pradesh in 2019: BJP’s LS sweep, bus tragedy

Himachal Pradesh in 2019: BJP’s LS sweep, bus tragedy

While the CM claimed that the MoUs would convert into actual investment, the opposition Congress termed the meet the biggest scam in the history of the state

MoS for Finance Anurag Thakur during the first pre-Budget consultation with financial sector and capital market representatives, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

A resounding victory for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, the death of 44 people in a bus tragedy and efforts to attract investment made headlines in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh in 2019.

While the BJP bagged all four seats in the state in the General Election earlier in the year, MoUs worth around Rs 93,000 crore were signed during the two-day Himachal Rising Global Investors' Meet at Dharamshala in November.

The state government was forced to take action against bus operators after an overloaded private bus fell into a deep gorge in Kullu district in June, claiming 44 lives.

The Congress underwent a major revamp when the party high command dissolved its entire state unit and frontal organisations.

In another major political development, senior state leader Jagat Prakash Nadda was given a prominent role at the national level when he was appointed the working president of the BJP.

Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's son Anurag Thakur too bagged a ministerial role at the Centre.

The Lok Sabha elections were a setback for former Union minister Sukh Ram's family.

While his son Anil Sharma had to resign in April as power minister from the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government, his grandson Aashray Sharma lost his maiden Lok Sabha election as a Congress candidate from Mandi.

Anil Sharma was under pressure from the BJP after his father Sukh Ram quit the saffron party and joined the Congress, along with Aashray Sharma.

Anil Sharma had said that he would neither campaign for his son nor BJP candidate Ram Swaroop Sharma. The state government held an investors' meet in Dharamshala in November to attract investments to the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the inaugural function on November 7 and the state government signed 614 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) of nearly Rs 93,000 crore against the set target of attracting investments to the tune of Rs 85,000 crore.

During the winter session of the state assembly in Dharamshala in December, the HP Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Facilitation of Establishment and Operation) Bill, 2019, was passed amid a walkout by the Congress.

Aiming to attract investment, the legislation proposed to exempt any person bringing a micro, small and medium enterprise to the state from taking approvals from government departments for three years.

Alleging efforts to dilute the Section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, which restricts the transfer of land to non-agriculturists, the Congress said the state government was trying to "sell" Himachal Pradesh by bringing the legislation.

The Section 118 of the Act remained in focus after the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi demanded the abolition of Section 118, terming it discriminatory in nature.

However, the Himachal units of both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress defended the law, saying it could not be compared with the special provision for J-K.

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