BJP struggles to quell rebellion in Himachal MC elections

Updated on Mar 30, 2021 10:32 AM IST

Toughest challenge from rebels in Dharamshala, where chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and Union minister Anurag Thakur will campaign for MC nominees

Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur campaigning for the Solan municipal corporation elections on Sunday. (HT Photo)
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur campaigning for the Solan municipal corporation elections on Sunday. (HT Photo)

With the April 7 municipal corporation (MC) elections drawing closer in Himachal Pradesh, the rebellion in the ruling BJP has grown intense with the party suspending 25 rebel candidates in Mandi, Palampur and Dharamshala.

The party faces its toughest challenge in Dharamshala, where it faces rebellion in 12 of the 17 MC wards. The party has put its troubleshooter and state forest minister Rakesh Pathania at the forefront of its campaign. “We have quelled rebellion in some wards but there are still many who have refused to withdraw from the fray. The party is trying its best,” Pathania said.

Rift between Gaddi community leaders

Infighting threatens to hit the party’s prospects with the rift between first-time legislator Vishal Neharia and Lok Sabha member Kishan Kapoor out in the open. Kapoor, a four-time legislator from Dharamshala, has been lying low since his election to the Lok Sabha in 2019.

The party sidelined Kapoor, who belongs to the dominant Gaddi community that constitutes 50% of the 37,000-strong Dharamshala MC electorate.

Neheria is from the Gaddi community too but Kapoor holds considerable influence.

With the rebels refusing to budge, the BJP suspended 14 party workers for contesting against the party nominees in Dharamshala, four in Palampur and six in Mandi, where local BJP MLA Anil Sharma has also refused to campaign for being sidelined after the last assembly elections.

Those suspended from the BJP in Dharamshala include Sujata Aggarwal (ward 1), Nisha Nehariya (ward 2), Dinesh Kapoor, Rajender Kumar and Mahender Singh (all from ward 3), Asha Baloria (ward 5), Vijay Kaul (ward 6), Bhagwan Singh (ward 9), Champa Devi (ward 10), Sanjeev (ward 13), Rajni Devi (ward 12), Sarvachand Galgotia (ward 16) and Dimple Kumari ward 17.

Battle of prestige for BJP, Congress

It’s for the first time that the MC elections in Mandi, Palampur, Solan and Dharamshala are being held on the party symbol, making it a battle of prestige for both the Congress and the BJP.

Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur has been campaigning in Dharamshala, while Union minister of state for corporate affairs Anurag Thakur canvasses on April 3. Jai Ram Thakur will visit Dharamshala again on April 5.

On the other hand, the Congress is hoping to gain from the BJP infighting. “The BJP always describes the Congress as a divided house, facing rebellion. But the Congress is contesting these elections unitedly,” said Nadaun Congress legislator Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, who is the party in-charge for the election in Dharamshala.

Issues that matter on the ground

According to Sukhu, inflation, lack of development and rising unemployment are the main poll issues. Lack of development, particularly in the rural areas, has put the BJP on the backfoot, he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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