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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Dharamshala bypolls: BJP workers against ticket to ‘outsider’

The BJP has sent four names to the high command as probable candidates. They include Rajeev Bhardwaj, Umesh Dutt, Vishal Nehria and Sanjay Sharma.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2019 23:20 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

Two days after the BJP leadership in Himachal Pradesh shot off the list of shortlisted candidates for Dharamshala assembly seat to the high command in New Delhi for deliberation, the party witnessed open rebellion by workers who warned against giving a ticket to an “outsider”.

As the bypolls to the seat inch closer, infighting over ticket once again came to fore in the BJP as some youth workers in the constituency openly threatened to defy the party if the ticket was allotted to an “outsider”.

The BJP has sent four names to the high command as probable candidates. They include Rajeev Bhardwaj, Umesh Dutt, Vishal Nehria and Sanjay Sharma.

Bhardwaj is currently chairman of Kangra Cooperative Bank and considered close to the veteran leader Shanta Kumar while Dutt is a former ABVP national general secretary and has close links in party leadership in Delhi.

Local BJYM secretary Nehria, who is considered as one of the strongest contenders, remained president of the Himachal Pradesh University Student Council in 2009 while Sharma is spokesperson of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and younger brother of former minister Praveen Sharma.

He was associated with ABVP during his college days and is close to BJP working president Jagat Prakash Nadda.

Clamour for the ticket to only a local was raised during the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) conference held at Fatehpur locality on Wednesday evening.

While workers were seen favouring Nehria, Bhardwaj and Dutt faced “Outsiders Go Back” slogans.

It all happened in front of Himachal Vidhan Sabha deputy speaker Hans Raj, who was the chief guest on the occasion. Protesting youth workers were far from being convinced even as the deputy speaker tried to pacify them.

A youth worker, while in confrontation with the deputy speaker, alleged that, as per information, the state BJP has sent a list of candidates to the high command sans name of a single local leader.

Others said Schedule Tribe and OBC were the dominant community in the Dharamshala but no priority was given to their candidate.

“We will not hesitate in quitting the party if the ticket is given to an outsider,” they said.

Vishal Nehria, when contacted, admitted that some leaders were objected to giving a ticket to a leader from outside the constituency. “They (workers) were convinced after being told that party’s decision will be final and that individuals hold no priority in the BJP,” said Nehria.

Dharamshala and Pachhad assembly segments in Himachal will go to bypoll on October 21. Dharamshala seat fell vacant after former minister Kishan Kapoor was elected to the Lok Sabha in General Elections held in May.