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Himachal assembly elections: BJP’s candidate list delayed despite several meetings

In the last elections, the party faced rebels in 18 constituencies and two of them even made it to the assembly.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2017 18:17 IST
Kumar Uttam
BJP president Amit Shah with Union health minister JP Nadda, senior leaders Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal and Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti at the party's
BJP president Amit Shah with Union health minister JP Nadda, senior leaders Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal and Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti at the party's "Yuva Hunkar Rally" at Kangra near Dharamsala.(PTI FILE)

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is attempting a comeback after it lost power to the Congress in 2012, is yet to announce the list of candidates two days after its central election committee met to decide the names of the nominees for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly polls on November 9.

“We expect to release the list of candidate in the next 24 hours,” a BJP leader said on Monday morning.

The party did not offer any reason for the delay but several rounds of consultation on Sunday indicate that the BJP has not been able to thrash out some issues, such as who will be the chief minister in the event of a victory.

There is a close contest between former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Union health minister JP Nadda.

Dhumal is a member of the legislative assembly and if he contests the election again, he would be seen as a natural claimant for the CM’s post. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is understood to have had a word with Dhumal after the CEC meeting on Saturday.

Fielding Nadda, a former MLA and currently a Rajya Sabha MP, in the assembly election is also a tricky issue. He is the party’s choice for the top post but has limited support in his home state.

The BJP is in favour of going without a chief ministerial face to avoid factionalism but a final decision is yet to be taken.

The party lost the 2012 assembly elections due to infighting between Dhumal and former chief minister Shanta Kumar. In the last elections, the party faced rebels in 18 constituencies and two of them even made it to the assembly.

The party also expects a couple of Congress veterans to cross over.

Himachal Pradesh’s rural development minister Anil Sharma, the son of former Union minister Sukhram, has joined the BJP and is expected to be fielded from Mandi. Transport minister Gurmukh Singh Bali, an MLA from Nagrota Baghwan, too, has kept the Congress guessing.

The results will be announced on December 18.