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Who’s the next Himachal CM? Suspense may end Sunday as central leaders meet MLAs

Five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur has emerged a dark horse in the race for Himachal Pradesh CM’s job, next to Union health minister JP Nadda, after senior leader Prem Kumar Dhumal lost to a protege-turned-rival.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2017 23:39 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Shimla, Hindustan Times
Himachal CM,Himachal Pradesh elections,BJP
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a meeting with senior BJP leaders in Shimla on Thursday.(Deepak Sansta/HT Photo)

Five days after the BJP stormed into power in Himachal Pradesh, the party’s central observers will on Sunday go into a huddle with newly elected MLAs to draw consensus on who will be the next chief minister.

The two central observers — defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar — are scheduled to visit the state capital on Sunday along with party’s in-charge for Himachal affairs, Mangal Pandey.

Sitharaman and Tomar had returned to Delhi on Friday after meeting senior party leaders and RSS functionaries in Shimla. The two are learnt to have apprised BJP president Amit Shah and other party functionaries in New Delhi of their feedback.

“The central leaders will arrive in Shimla in a special plane tomorrow (Sunday) and will hold discussions with the BJP MLAs,” state BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti said.

Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur, who was conspicuous by his absence at the party’s core committee members’ meeting, is learnt to have met Tomar and Sitharaman in New Delhi. It is learnt that health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda, who emerged as the front runner for the CM’s post, also met the two leaders.

Nadda was seemingly the BJP high command’s favourite for the CM’s post in the run-up to the poll but the party projected Prem Kumar Dhumal as its CM candidate keeping local calculations in mind.

While five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur is also considered a front runner for the post, the name of Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj is also doing the rounds.

A section of MLAs are backing Dhumal for the CM’s post, it is learnt. Though Dhumal himself has ruled out his candidature for the post, his group is opposed to Jai Ram Thakur’s candidature, preferring Nadda over him.

First Published: Dec 23, 2017 23:11 IST