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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

BJP troubleshooters out to quell dissent in Pachhad, Dharamshala

With less than 24 hours left for withdrawing names from the fray, the saffron party has pressed irrigation and public health minister Mahender Singh Thakur and education minister Suresh Bhardwaj into damage-control exercise.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2019 22:16 IST
Gaurav Bisht/Naresh K Thakur
Gaurav Bisht/Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times, Shimla/Dharamshala 
Hindustantimes
         

Grappling with dissidence in Pachhad and Dharamshala, the two constituencies where byelection is slated for October 21, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has pressed troubleshooters to placate the rebels.

Rebellion is more intense in Pachhad, the seat vacated by Suresh Kashyap after he was elected to the Lok Sabha in May this year, where two BJP rebels—Dyal Pyari and Ashish Sikta—have entered the poll fray as Independents after being denied ticket from the segment.

With less than 24 hours left for withdrawing names from the fray, the saffron party has pressed irrigation and public health minister Mahender Singh Thakur and education minister Suresh Bhardwaj into damage-control exercise. placate the defiant leaders. Besides, the party is also taking help of local leaders to convince the duo to steer clear from poll fray in ‘party’s interests’. The last date of withdrawal of papers is October 3.  

Pyari is a former Zila Parishad chairman, who owes allegiance to the camp of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal while Sikta, a former Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) leader, has the potential to sway youth voters in his favour.

It is said that Sikta was the obvious choice of chief minister Jai Ram Thakur for the ticket but the party finally settled on political greenhorn Reena Kashyap. This led to resentment among local ranks in Pachhad with both Pyari and Sikta choosing to enter the poll fray as Independents besides defying party’s request to cede candidature to Kashyap.  

If need be, CM will personally speak with rebels: Satti

State BJP chief Satpal Satti said the party has stepped up efforts to placate the rebels. “If need be, the chief minister will personally talk to them,” he said.

Satti said many leaders were vying for ticket from Pachhad and “such things (rebellion) happen where there is large number of aspirants”.

However, the rebels are not the only the problem for BJP in Pachhad constituency of Sirmour district. Vidhan Sabha speaker Rajeev Bindal, who was incharge of Sirmour in Lok Sabha election, is also not to be seen in the poll scene this time as he is touring African nation Uganda. 

Ministers in action in Dharamshala

The situation is no different in Dharamshala.

Rakesh Chaudhary, who belongs to dominant Other Backward Classes (OBC) community, has revolted against the party after being denied ticket and is contesting as an independent candidate.

A former panchayat pradhan, Chaudhary was earlier associated with Congress before switching sides to the BJP in 2015.

He was staking claim to the BJP ticket citing the large population of OBC voters in Dharamshala assembly segment. It is learnt that BJP has asked health minister Vipin Singh Parmar and industry ministry Bikram Thakur to placate him.

When contacted, Chaudhary said no leader has approached him yet.

“Even if they come, I will not compromise at any cost. That’s the word I have given to my supporters,” said Chaudhary.

“OBC have a right on the ticket given the fact that they have largest population in Dharamshala. But we were never given representation by any party. It was due to this bias that I left Congress and joined BJP. But, both are same and don’t want to give OBC their due,” he alleged.

Independent extends support

The only reliving news for the BJP is that one of the independents in fray, Chaukas Bhardwaj, announced to withdraw his nominations and extend support to saffron party’s candidate Vishal Nehria in Dharamshala following a meeting with industry minister Bikram Thakur.

‘Mollify sulking leaders’

Meanwhile, five-time legislator and Lok Sabha member Kishan Kapoor, has been asked by the party high command to hold parleys with the ‘sulking’ leaders, who were not given the ticket after making it to the final list.

Kangra co-operative bank chairman Rajeev Bhardwaj,  Himachal Cricket Association’s spokesman Sanjay Sharma and state media incharge Rakesh Sharma had skipped the nomination filing and are likely to remain dormant in the elections.