HP bypolls: BJP expels Chetan Bragta
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday expelled Chetan Bragta, the convener of its IT cell, for a period of six-year for contesting the byelection against the party’s official candidate in Jubbal and Kotkhai assembly segment, said party’s office secretary Pyar Singh in a press release issued here.
Earlier, the state party chief, Suresh Kashyap, said that he himself had spoken to Bragta many times and urged him to withdraw his name. “The decision against allocating tickets to the kin of deceased leaders was made by the central high command,” he added.
Now, the contest in the apple affluent Jubbal and Kotkhai segment will be a triangular one. There are four candidates in fray, but the major competition is between Congress’ Rohit Thakur, BJP’s Neelam Seraik and Independent Chetan Bragta, who’s the eldest son of former horticulture minister Narendra Bragta, a popular leader in the region.
Narendra Bragta, who had been a minister twice, was the chief whip of the party with a cabinet rank when he died due to post-Covid complication in June this year. Narendra is largely credited for strengthening the apple economy in the state.
Soon after his death, the party projected Chetan as his apparent political successor and asked him to step into campaign field. Chetan remained at the forefront of electioneering with the party’s ministers who repeatedly toured the constituency. As many as seven ministers, including CM Jai Ram Thakur, were canvassing in the Jubbal-Kotkhai segment to improve prospects of the party. However, the BJP’s central election committee took the principal decision to discourage dynastic politics while selecting candidates. The party denied ticket to Chetan and preferred Neelam over him. She has been a three-time zila parishad member from Tharola ward and pradhan from Baghan panchayat. She has served the party in different capacities.
Chetan’s candidature has now added difficulties to the BJP as majority of the party cadres and office-bearers of the block unit are supporting with him. The party is also likely to take action against the office-bearers and workers who ‘defied’ the party dictates in Jubbal and Kotkhai.
“My father lived for apples and served the party for many years. I will work towards strengthening the horticulture economy besides development of the area. I will live up to the dreams of my father,” Chetan said. “Fortunately, I have been allotted apple as my election symbol,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to comment on what the BJP did to him. “That chapter is closed now. All I know is that there was a big conspiracy against me,” Chetan said.
The party had placated Govind Ram Sharma, former legislator from Arki, who was demanding a ticket. The party had denied ticket to Govind in 2017 and pitted Rattan Pal Singh against former CM Virbhadra Singh who shifted to Arki after vacating Shimla Rural seat for his son Vikramaditya Singh. Despite repeated persuasion, Sharma has refused to campaign for the party nominee.