In the BJP’s bid to prevent factionalism marring its chances of wresting power from the Congress in the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh on November 14 and December 19, the party said on Monday that it would name its chief minister only after the results are declared.
“The issue of leadership will be decided by the BJP parliamentary board later. Right now, the party is busy finalising its candidates,” said Satpal Jain, the BJP in charge for Himachal Pradesh.
Two of its former Himachal Pradesh chief ministers — and traditional rivals — Prem Kumar Dhumal and Shanta Kumar may be kept out of the elections to send out a message of unity and to enable the two veterans to campaign across the state instead of tying them down to one constituency.
The policy of naming its chief minister after declaration of the elections results was followed in Uttarakhand.
In Gujarat, an exception is being made as the party campaign will revolve around the personality of chief minister Narendra Modi.
Dhumal won as Lok Sabha MP from Hamirpur in a by-election to the Lok Sabha two months ago and is credited for development works carried out during his tenure as chief minister between 1998-2003.
Shanta Kumar is a BJP vice-president at the national level looking after Jammu and Kashmir. He won the Lok Sabha election from Kangra constituency in 2004. As chief minister from 1990-92, he was known for his tough style of functioning that earned the wrath of government employees.
Dhumal enjoys the support of many of the party’s central leaders and RSS top brass while Shanta Kumar is rated a veteran leader with considerable influence in the Kangra valley, which has 16 seats.
Meanwhile, the BJP’s central election committee on Monday announced the party’s candidates for three Himachal Pradesh Assembly constituencies currently held by the Congress.
BJP president Rajnath Singh will kick off the poll campaign for the 65 seats from Mandi on November 18.