The rebel factor had cost the Bharatiya Janata Party dear in the Vidhan Sabha elections. Now, when the saffron party is bracing up its cadres for the Lok Sabha elections, it's caught in dilemma over taking back rebels into the party fold.
While a strong section of BJP leaders wants its leadership to rethink on return of rebels before the Lok Sabha elections, the other section continues to oppose re-entry of those who had left the party just before the Vidhan Sabha elections.
There are growing voices in the BJP which even favours return of those leaders who had joined hands with former BJP Lok Sabha member Maheshwar Singh to float regional outfit Himachal Lokhit Morcha that won a single seat, but dented the winning prospects of BJP candidates in many assembly segments.
“Like theft even by a penurious person cannot be justified. So is the rebellion by BJP leaders,” said a senior party leader.
In a catch-22 situation, there is a growing opinion among leaders that the party should decide on the fate of rebels only after considering merits and demerits of each individual.
“The issue of return of the rebels has been discussed informally, but decision will only be taken after party leaders goes into a huddle,” state party chief Satpal Singh Satti told the Hindustan Times.
There is also growing feeling among the leaders that in certain constituencies, wrong distribution of the party ticket at the behest of senior leaders had compelled probable candidates to rebel against the party.
“Any decision on the entry of rebels can only be taken after the elections get over in five states,” said Satti.
“However, one thing is for sure that we cannot have the same yardstick for every rebel,” he added.
The BJP had faced the heat of rebellion in the elections, particularly in politically sensitive Kangra district.
Those who were expelled were former minister and six-time MLA Roop Singh Thakur from Sundernagar, Kamla Patial from Dharamsala, Bhupendra Chauhan from Bhatiyat, Sudha Sushant, wife of expelled BJP Lok Sabha member Rajan Sushant, from Fatehpur, Sanjay Guleria from Jwali, Damodar Chauhan from Nachan, Hira Nand Kashyap from Solan, Mahant Ram Chowdhary from Balh, Rajendra Rana from Sujanpur and Shyam Lal Thakur from Mandi.
As a result of rebellion in the BJP, the party could win 26 seats, while three BJP rebels - Pawan Kajal, Rajinder Rana and Manohar Dhiman - later became associate members of the Congress.
The party is undecided on show-cause notices that were issued to at least 157 party leaders for working against official nominees during the elections.
The party had constituted a three-member committee headed by senior party leader Ganesh Dutt and other members included Ritu Sethi, Rasil Singh Mankotia and Dr Rajiv Bhardwaj.