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Election results: BJP discusses Himachal CM pick, Rupani likely to continue in Gujarat

After the BJP topped the election results in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, the focus now shifts to who their CM choice will be

india Updated: Dec 19, 2017 08:10 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Election results,Gujarat election results,Himachal election results
Prime Minister Narendra Modi smiles as Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj share a word at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Monday. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The BJP on Monday deputed observers for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to oversee the selection of chief ministers in the two states it won in contrasting styles.

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and party general secretary Saroj Pandey have been sent to Gujarat, while defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and minister of steel Narendra Singh Tomar will be in Himachal Pradesh to attend the meeting of legislature parties in the two states.

In Gujarat the party might continue with incumbent Vijay Rupani while in Himachal it will have to decide on a new CM as the projected candidate for the post, Kumar Dhumal, was trailing from Sujanpur seat to his once time protégé Rajinder Rana by about 3,000 votes.

The BJP had lost Sujanpur last time by a margin of 14166 votes.

Dhumal’s constituency was changed at the last minute from his native place Hamirpur to boost the party in the region. As the decision came even after nominations had started, Dhumal, a four-time law maker, did not get enough time to prepare and the Congress fielded rebel BJP leader Rana, who had nurtured the constituency well.

Party sources said union health minister J P Nadda, who campaigned extensively in Himachal before Dhumal’s name was announced, a few days before polling on November 9, is a front-runner if the party decides against appointing Dhumal. Nadda is is a sitting Rajya Sabha member.

Former minister Jai Ram Thakur, who won from Seraj, is also considered a probable for the CM’s post. Party sources said Thakur has backing of the RSS as he was a paracharak for a long time. Sources said Thakur has been summoned to Delhi for consultation.

“It is too early to rule Dhumal out,” a BJP leader said, requesting anonymity. “Such a situation never arose before the party in the past.”

If the BJP decides in favour of Dhumal as chief minister, it will necessitate a byelection to the state assembly.

In Gujarat, chief minister Vijay Rupani is likely to continue as the chief minister even though names of Union minister Parshottam Rupala and Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala were also doing the rounds. Rupani is considered BJP’s national president Amit Shah’s choice for the CM’s post.

Shah told reporters at the BJP headquarters that the party had already declared -- during campaigning -- Vijay Rupani as the CM candidate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi too hinted that Rupani will continue as the chief minister as he praised all those who have continued on the “journey of development” even after he moved to Delhi three-and-a-half years back.

Rupani is a Jain, a community with around 1 per cent population share in Gujarat. BJP sources said his continuation as the chief minister allows the party to strike a balance between different communities. Rupani won his election from Rajkot West by a margin of 53,755 votes, despite a spirited campaign by Patidar leaders.

First Published: Dec 18, 2017 20:55 IST