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Nirmala Sitharaman in Himachal to set off govt formation

india Updated: Dec 21, 2017 23:20 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Nirmala Sitharaman,Himachal Pradesh,Shimla

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman (right), former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal (left) and BJP leader Chander Mohan Thakur at a meeting in Shimla on Thursday.(Deepak Sansta/HT Photo)

Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar — who have been appointed as observers by the parliamentary board — reached Shimla along with party state in-charge and Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey on Thursday evening to hold a discourse on the name of Himachal’s new chief minister with the newly elected state legislators.

The central observers met the BJP’s state unit core group which included former party president and five-time legislator Jai Ram Thakur, party chief Satpal Singh Satti, health minister JP Nadda, former chief ministers Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal besides parliamentarians Anurag Thakur, Virender Kashyap and Ram Swaroop Sharma.

“The main aim of our visit is to gather feedback on the formation of government in Himachal. The observation we draw from here will be given to the parliamentary board in New Delhi and the final call will be taken by the high command,” Tomar said.

“Sitharaman and Tomar will separately meet the party’s legislators and Lok Sabha members on Friday morning,” state party chief Satti told Hindustan Times.

The party has won 44 seats in the 68-member assembly.

JP Nadda and Jai Ram Thakur have emerged as the dark horses in the race for the CM’s post. Nadda, who enjoys proximity to the party’s national president Amit Shah, is a key member of BJP’s core team. It’s likely for him to be retained at the Centre.

The clamour for making Dhumal the chief minister has also gained momentum and three BJP MLAs have reportedly offered to vacate their seats for him.

Race for cabinet berths hots up

Even as the top leadership is deliberating on the names of contenders for the chief minister’s seat, legislators vying for the ministerial births have already begun a back-door lobbying for the coveted posts.

The legislators have been visiting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) state headquarters in Shimla, say sources.

The names of Seraj legislator Jai Ram Thakur and Shimla MLA Suresh Bhardwaj are doing rounds for the top positions. From Mandi parliamentary seat, if Jai Ram is escalated to the CM’s post, Manali legislator Govind Thakur, Dharampur’s Mahinder Singh Thakur, Sarkaghat’s Inder Singh and Mandi’s Anil Sharma could be the front runners. Ram Lal Markandey, an MLA from Lahaul and Spiti, is also in the race as he hails from a tribal seat.

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 23:20 IST