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BJP’S war room: Men who matter in Himachal Pradesh assembly elections

Here are the men who matter and the role they play for the BJP in Himachal Pradesh.

HimachalPradeshElection2017 Updated: Oct 30, 2017 21:03 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Shimla
himachal polls,Himachal elections,Himachal BJP
Clockwise from top left: Ram Lal, Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Mangal Pandey, Trilok Jamwal, Praveen Sharma and Pavan Rana. (HT Photos)

Hoping that the Modi wave that propelled it to a clean sweep in the state in 2014 Lok Sabha elections with massive margins on all four seats will work again as it campaigns to unseat the incumbent Congress government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting on all 68 seats. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is again on its list of star campaigners. The team that it has put in place to run its campaign has experience blending in with youth. Here are the men who matter and the role they play for the BJP in Himachal Pradesh. Hindustan Timestakes a peep onto BJP war room.

HARD TASKMASTER: RAM LAL, 64

A bridge between the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP, Ram Lal was the pracharak in West Uttar Pradesh before replacing Sanjay Joshi as the party general secretary (organisation) in 2006. Unlike other BJP leaders, Lal works silently, away from media fanfare. He was part of the party’s election committee that distributed tickets and also led the troubleshooting squad to quell rebellion over tickets. Lal is touring the state to meet party office-bearers and members of the civil society to garner support and troubleshoot issues.

FLYING MACHINE: THAAWAR CHAND GEHLOT, 69

Minister of social justice and empowerment at the Centre, Thaawar Chand Gehlot is the party’s most well-recognised Dalit face and also the election in-charge. Using his extensive experience of electoral politics, Gehlot was instrumental in ensuring disgruntled party workers in the state fell in line. Through the efforts of the party’s Scheduled Caste wing, the SC Morcha, Gehlot is trying to woo the Dalit electors, that comprise 26% of the state’s population. The man from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Gehlot and Ram Lal are the ones who chalk out the campaign plan. If the party succeeds to swing 26% Dalit votes in its favour, Gehlot is sure to named the ‘Man of the Match’.

DELHI’S EYE: MANGAL PANDEY, 45

Mangal Pandey was appointed in-charge of Himachal Pradesh, after Shrikant Sharma was elected from Mathura to the Uttar Pradesh assembly and made power minister. The Himachal appointment proved lucky for Pandey as he soon took charge as Bihar health minister. A man credited with great organisational finesse, Pandey is Amit Shah’s pick to work in Himachal polls. There was speculation that he could even be named the CM face; for now, his role is seen as critical in managing factions in the state unit. From delivering pep talk to workers to counselling individual leaders, Pandey is seen as one of the most active state in-charges the party has seen over the years.

TECH-SAVVY ORGANISER: PAVAN RANA, 44

A former RSS pracharak from Jawalamukhi, Pavan Rana is the party’s tech-savvy organisational general secretary. Rana is supervising ‘Hisaab Maange Himachal (‘The State Seeks Accountability’) and also keeps a lose watch on other parts of the campaign. He accompanies the Hard Taskmaster, Ram Lal, to all corners of he state to win support for the party. He is also popular amongst BJP’s Information Technology (IT) cell workers. Rana is the only senior party leader visiting the war room that has been set up at the party office. He makes it a point to interact with the young volunteers at the office and gets minute-by-minute report of the campaign.

EXPERIENCED MANAGER: PRAVEEN SHARMA, 59

Former minister Praveen Sharma, a party loyalist, is an experienced leader looking after election management. Sharma sits in the party office and plans schedules of national and state leaders during campaigning. He has struck a balance on candidates’ requests for star campaigners to visit their constituency. He also has the responsibility is to keep up the tempo of the party’s hi-tech campaign. Sharma has team of officer bearers looking after media affairs, campaign committee. He listens to complaints and troubleshoots.

POLITE SWAYAMSEVAK: TRILOK JAMWAL, 43

Considered close to Union health minister JP Nadda, Trilok Jamwal is office incharge for these polls. Jamwal is coordinating between national and state leaders and rushing from one place to other to look after arrangements of rallies of national leaders. An advocate who has been associated with the RSS for years, Jamwal knows the party’s functioning. In June this year, he was the in-charge of the Shimla municipal corporation polls, where the BJP secured the majority in the House for the first-time ever.