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After Dhumal damper, BJP scouts for CM face in Himachal

Nadda front runner for the post; Nirmala Sitharaman, Narendra Tomar named Central observers for Himachal

Published: 20th December 2017 02:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th December 2017 09:50 AM   |  A+A-

Prem Kumar Dhumal

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The BJP continues to mull over the chief ministerial probable for Himachal Pradesh after former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal lost from the Sujanpur constituency.

Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar have been appointed Central observers for the hilly state, and hectic parleys are stated to be under way in the national capital. While Union Minister J P Nadda is considered a front runner for the chief ministerial position, the BJP is wary of dissidence gripping the party unit in the state. Incidentally, Nadda is a Brahmin, while politics in the state is largely dominated by Thakurs.

Senior state BJP leader Jairam Thakur is also seen to be in the reckoning. Thakur won from Seraj Assembly constituency in the state. Dhumal, who is also a Thakur, was the BJP’s declared chief ministerial candidate.

The BJP Parliamentary Board, in a meeting late on Monday evening, appointed Sitharaman and Tomar as Central observers for the hilly state. The two leaders have reportedly been briefed by BJP chief Amit Shah.
Hamirpur Lok Sabha MP Anurag Thakur, who is the son of Dhumal, is also reportedly fancying his chances of stepping in to fill the vacancy caused by the electoral loss of his father. He is also seen as close to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely, who apparently had persuaded the party’s top brass to announce Dhumal as the chief ministerial candidate during the course of electioneering.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known to have spent considerable time in Himachal Pradesh during his stint in the RSS and afterwards as a BJP general secretary. “Modi personally knows many of the state leaders in Himachal Pradesh. He knows the challenges before the state. He is keen that there should be a younger leader leading the state, who can beat the tradition of Himachal Pradesh rejecting the incumbent government in every election. Therefore, there will be a number of considerations behind the choice of the next chief minister of the hilly state,” said a senior BJP functionary.

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections will also be a factor in the BJP’s choice of chief minister. “Nadda has shown his administrative skills as a Union minister. He has handled the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare quite efficiently. Since the next state chief minister will have the immediate task on hand of delivering on governance in quick time, Nadda could get the nod,” said the BJP functionary.

However, Nadda is not seen as a mass leader in Himachal Pradesh. The BJP is equally wary of the prospects of factional fighting in the state. Former chief minister Shanta Kumar is still believed to have a strong following in the state. “The BJP will make a well thought-out choice for the next CM candidate who would be acceptable to all the legislators, besides having the administrative acumen to take the hilly state on the path of development,” he added.

State BJP leader Thakur in reckoning
Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar named Central observers for HP
Union Minister J P Nadda seen as a front runner for CM’s post. But he is not considered a mass leader
Senior state BJP leader Jairam Thakur also said to be in the reckoning.

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