New Delhi: The stalemate over who will be the next chief minister of Himachal Pradesh continues five days after the BJP won the elections by securing 44 of the 68 Assembly seats.
While supporters of P.K. Dhumal, the party’s chief ministerial candidate who lost to a Congress candidate, and Jairam Thakur, senior leader and Seraj MLA, have been lobbying hard for their candidates, there are indications that the party top brass’ final choice will be with an eye on Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
Himachal Pradesh has four parliamentary constituencies. The legislature party of the BJP is likely to meet on Sunday to select its leader after the BJP top brass, which is holding consultations on the issue, finalises the name of the CM. The swearing-in ceremony of the next CM of the state could take place on December 27.
The party high command had desperately tried to overcome factionalism in its state unit by declaring Prof. Dhumal as its chief ministerial candidate just few days ahead of polling. But it’s come to the fore again after he lost.
Though a major section within the state cadre is backing Mr Jairam Thakur, supporters of Prof. Dhumal, the two-time former chief minister, allege that a conspiracy was hatched by some leaders to sideline the Dhumals. They argue that some party leaders had sabotaged his chances of winning elections after he shifted from his Hamirpur Assembly segment to Sujanpur as suggested by the party top brass. A couple of BJP MLAs, in fact, have offered to vacate their seat if the party leadership decides to go with Prof. Dhumal. But the RSS, sources said, is in favour of an elected MLA to head the state.
Name of four-time Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj is also doing the rounds for the top post. Both Mr Jairam Thakur and Mr Bhardwaj have an RSS lineage and are popular among the cadre.
Speculation is also rife that the BJP top brass could decide a name other than that of Mr Jairam Thakur, Mr Bhardwaj and Prof. Dhumal as the party top brass’ choice will have an impact on Lok Sabha results in the state.
Sources disclosed that amid uncertainty over his name being chosen for the CM’s post, Prof. Dhumal’s camp has indicated to the leadership that if not him, then Union health minister J.P. Nadda should be declared as the CM. They are of the view that if Mr Nadda is made the CM, it will help Prof. Dhumal’s son and Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur in the next Lok Sabha elections as the Union minister’s constituency, Bilaspur, is part of the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency.
However, sources said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not in favour of disturbing his Cabinet.
BJP state unit was also abuzz that to break the stalemate, Mr Anurag Thakur’s name was suggested by a Cabinet minister for the top post.