The much-awaited expansion of the Union council of ministers on November 9 has raised hopes for Himachal Pradesh, as the state is eying a berth in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
Though the Bharatiya Janata Party won all the four Lok Sabha seats, including Kangra, Mandi, Shimla and Hamirpur from Himachal Pradesh, none of the BJP MPs from the state made it to the Modi’s cabinet in the first go. However, Sunday’s cabinet expansion has once again raised the hopes of Himachal parliamentarians of securing a berth in the Union cabinet.
The names of BJP’s national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Jagat Prakash Nadda and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) national president Anurag Thakur are being considered for the ministerial berths.
Nadda was appointed as party’s national general secretary by Nitin Gadkari in 2010. Nadda, who was the forest minister in Prem Kumar Dhumal-led BJP government, had resigned from the state affairs after he was asked to shoulder the party’s responsibilities. Nada, who had remained the national president of BJYM in the early 90’s, was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 2012.
He was retained as national general secretary ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by the then BJP president Rajnath Singh. He is now the senior most general secretary and is also the secretary of the BJP parliamentary board.
Once a strong contender for the BJP national president’s post; Nadda is close to national president Amit Shah. Besides, Nadda is also in-charge for the party affairs in Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
Three-time parliamentarian Anurag Thakur also has his own clout in BJP’s political circle in Delhi. Anurag’s father Prem Kumar Dhumal, who is a former chief minister of the state, shares a good rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Anurag was widely appreciated by Modi during the elections rally in Hamirpur, which had raised hopes that he would get a ministerial berth if BJP came to power after the Lok Sabha elections. But it did not materialize as Modi did not pick up kin of BJP leaders to send out a strong message against dynastic politics.
But now with former finance minister Yashwant Sinha’s son Jayant Singh’s name being considered for ministerial berth, BJP leaders from Himachal are also hoping a berth for Anurag Thakur.
However, Anurag Thakur, who also heads the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, is facing series of cases against him. The state anti corruption and vigilance bureau has registered three FIRs against him and other office-bearers of the HPCA in different cases.
Anurag is largely credited for bringing cricket stadium in Dhramsala on the international map.
Meanwhile, amidst back-door lobbying, the BJP leaders are treading with caution. “I have communicated people’s sentiments to the party high command,” said Shrikant Sharma, BJP’s national secretary, who is also in-charge of party affairs in Himachal Pradesh. “BJP has six members of parliament, including two in Rajya Sabha, and it deserves a ministerial berth,” he said, while refraining from naming the candidate for the ministerial berth.
Meanwhile, the name of Shimla Lok Sabha member, Virender Kashyap, is also doing the rounds.