HP BJP ‘finalises’ candidates, list sent to high command
The top brass of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) went into huddle in the state capital on Tuesday to finalise their nominees for the byelections to two assembly segments--Pacchad and Dharamshala, while opposition Congress’s election committee will meet on Wednesday for the same.
The two seats fell vacant on the victory of Kishan Kapoor and Suresh Kashyap in the parliamentary polls.
As the last date of filing nominations (September 31) inches closer, both the parties are struggling to decide on their respective candidates for the byelections which are slated to be held on October 21. “Not even a single person has filed nominations so far,”said officer on special duty (OSD) Neeraj Sharma.
Besides brainstorming on the candidates, BJP’s state election committee, comprising senior leadership, deliberated on its strategy for the bypolls.
“Many candidates are vying for tickets which is a good sign of democracy in the party. There should always be a spirit of competition. It makes is more evident that a common man can also contest elections,” chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said before heading for the meeting.
All three Lok Sabha members--Suresh Kashyap, Kishan Kapoor and Ramswaroop Sharma, state party chief Satpal Singh Satti, party’s organising secretary Pawan Rana and former state BJP chief Kripal Parmar, Suresh Bhardwaj among other leaders were present.
However, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, his son, minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Thakur, were unable to mark presence due to their busy schedule.
Earlier in the day, a closed door meeting was also held between former chief minister and veteran BJP leader, Shanta Kumar and Thakur at the latter’s official residence in Oak Over.
Aspirants in the BJP have been making frantic efforts to secure party ticket. The party is facing the ‘problem of plenty’ as history shows that whichever party remains in power wins the byelections.
There is a long list of contenders in Dharamshala, also known as the second capital of the state, and finalising the name is proving to be a tough call for the BJP.
Among the front runners is Umesh Dutt, a former general secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of RSS.
He has strong links in the RSS and the BJP national leadership. Dutt has been lobbying quietly. During 2017 assembly polls, the saffron party allotted ticket to Dutt from Dharamshala assembly segment but dropped his name after Kishan Kapoor revolted and threatened to contest as an independent candidate.
Kangra Cooperative Bank chairman Rajiv Bhardwaj and State’s BJP media co-incharge Rakesh Sharma are also in the race. Both are close to former chief minister Shanta Kumar and expect the veteran leader to back the candidature of either of them.
Another contender is Sanjay Sharma, a former ABVP activist who is a director in Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and also spokesperson of the sports body. Sharma is close to BJP working president JP Nadda.
Sachin Sharma, an RSS functionary and Vishal Nehria, a local Yuva Morcha leader — who belongs to dominant Gaddi community — are also vying for the ticket. Name of Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader Mukesh Chaudhary was also discussed during the meeting.
Three names finalised
The party has reportedly finalised three names which will be placed before the high command in Delhi. As per sources, names of Rajeev Bhardwaj, Umesh Dutt and Vishal Neharia figured in the Dharamshala list.
From Pachhad, the party deliberated on names of Zila Parishad member Reenu Kashyap, former ABVP warhorse Ashish Sikta and former armyman Baldev Kashyap. Majority of members in the poll panel favoured Ashish Sikta and Renu Kashyap, sources said.
Meanwhile, the Congress observers, appointed by All India Congress Committee ( AICC), have already submitted its report for Pacchad segment where they seem to be settled on the name of former assembly speaker Gangu Ram Musafir.
Musafir, who has a record of seven straight wins from 1982-2007, lost the last assembly elections to BJP’s Suresh Kashyap.