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Himachal Pradesh: Suspense on CM choice continues as BJP observers return to Delhi

india Updated: Dec 22, 2017 23:49 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Himachal Pradesh,chief minister,Himachal CM

BJP central observer Nirmala Sitharaman talks with the former chief minister and senior leader Prem Kumar Dhumal during a meeting with the newly elected party MLAs in Shimla on Thursday. (PTI Photo)

Suspense continues over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP’s) choice for the Himachal Pradesh chief minister even as the Central observers of the party — defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar-- returned to Delhi on Friday. They will now meet BJP national president Amit Shah and the party’s parliamentary board to take a final decision.

On Friday, the two observers and in-charge for party affairs in Himachal, Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey, drove to the Hedgewar Bhawan, the state’s RSS headquarters in Shimla’s Nabha locality. Accompanied by state BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti and organising secretary Pawan Rana, the group consulted Prant Pracharak, Sanjiv.

After a two-hour discussion, the Central leaders drove back to the state-run hotel, The Peterhof. Here, there was again a huddled meeting with Parliamentarians — former chief minister Shanta Kumar, Virender Kashyap and Ramswaroop Sharma. Kumar had arrived at the hotel in the forenoon and left the venue soon after the meeting. Significantly, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son and Hamirpur Lok Sabha member Anurag Thakur did not arrive in Shimla.

On Thursday evening, the observers had held separate meetings with former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Seraj MLA Jai Ram Thakur.

What was discussed

Sources told HT that the Sangh has favoured the appointment of the next CM from among elected legislators. Seraj MLA Jai Ram and health minister JP Nadda, the party’s national general secretary, continue to be the front-runners. A few of the MLAs also backed the candidature of Prem Kumar Dhumal who, unexpectedly, lost from Sujanpur.

Three legislators — including Virender Kanwar from Kutlehar — even offered their seat to Dhumal. Nachan MLA Vinod Kumar, who won by 16,000 votes, also credited Dhumal for the party’s victory in the elections.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal are to be credited with the party’s victory,” Vinod told reporters at The Peterhof.

There was no formal meeting with the BJP legislators, but individual consultation. The majority of the legislators left the decision with the high command, but there were voices of dissent against Jai Ram Thakur. Sources said leaders from Mandi opposed Jai Ram’s candidature. From here, seven-time MLA Mahender Singh Thakur is the senior-most.

First Published: Dec 22, 2017 20:53 IST