The National Conference is likely to have a major say in electing the next state president of the BJP. It may come as a surprise to many but according to sources in the BJP, some names have been short-listed and the final decision will be taken by the top leadership of the party, some of whom share personal equation with union minister Farooq Abdullah.
"Dr Farooq Abdullah has some good friends in the top BJP leadership. And he will have a definite say in deciding the candidate. The NC wants to have friendly opposition from the BJP, unlike the fiery PDP," says senior BJP leaders, wishing not to be quoted.
According to party sources, the names of Nagrota MLA Jugal Kishore and BJP state vice-president Chander Prakash Ganga are doing the rounds.
Kishore is backed by a former state president, whose relation with Abdullah and now with chief minister Omar Abdullah is an open secret. The former state president had a narrow escape from being sacked along with seven other MLAs in the cross-voting case during the MLC elections. A criminal case has been registered against Jugal and an application for the CBI probe had been filed in the court in this regard.
"Jugal would like to have support of the NC for his candidature to save himself from facing the criminal case and he would definitely reciprocate this gesture of the NC," said the source.
State president Shamsher Singh, considered a hardcore RSS man, has according to sources, expressed his desire to be given the second term after the amendment in the party constitution.
Bali Bhagat, Kavinder Gupta, Rajinder Arora and Jatinder Singh, both spokespersons of the party, are also in the race. The former state president and expelled BJP MLA had privately admitted a number of times that some senior leaders of the party are very close to Dr Farooq Abullah and decisions are taken in a manner that they do not politically hurt NC.