BJP’s CM candidates in Haryana
Albeit, BJP has not officially named its chief ministerial candidate, there are several eyeing the top chair.
The BJP state president Ram Bilas Sharma, 65, is one of them. With RSS background, Sharma -- who hails from Mahendergarh -- has been MLA from that seat for four consecutive terms - 1982, 1987, 1991, 1996. He was the health minister in Bansi Lal government formed by HVP-BJP alliance, though BJP later pulled out of it to support the INLD government. Sharma has lost election after election since. However, known for his oratory power, he is said to be close to senior leader Sushma Swaraj. He is contesting from Mahendergarh seat.
Another RSS and BJP leader Manohar Lal Khattar, member, BJP national executive committee, who has chosen to remain a bachelor, is another hopeful. He has not contested any election and with over 40 years of public service, he is a known strategist and leader of election campaigns. Khattar, who is also Haryana BJP general secretary (organisation), and chairman of the state election committee, is a Punjabi and could be an RSS choice. He is contesting from Karnal seat.
Another BJP’s CM hopeful is Capt Abhimanyu Sindhu, 46. Though he has not won any election in the past, he is now contesting from Narnaund. He had contested the 2004 Lok Sabha polls against Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the then state Congress president, when he finished second. In 2009 he fought against Hooda’s son Deepender Hooda and again finished second. With a political career of about 16 years, Capt Abhimanyu, who was general secretary of Haryana BJP unit in 2005 and in 2010, was elevated to the post of national BJP secretary and spokesman. He is known for his organisational skills. He was election agent and co-coordinator of his father-in-law Sahib Singh Verma, former chief minister of Delhi.
Talks are also agog that the party may consider Union external minister Sushma Swaraj for the state CM’s chair. She hails from Ambala Cantt and was MLA from there at an age of 25 in 1977, defeating four-time CM Bansi Lal. She won the seat again in 1987 and was a cabinet minsiter. She was Haryana BJP president too in 1979, though she subsequently joined the national politics. Though she is not contesting, her younger sister Vandana is contesting from Safidon.
Krishan Pal Gujjar, 57, who is already Union minister in Modi government, began his political career in 1994 by winning the election to the municipal corporation. In 1996, Gurjar was elected the MLA from Mevla Maharajpur constituency and was made transport minister in Bansi Lal’s government. He was made BJP state president in 2009 when he also won as MLA from Tigaon constituency. Recently, he defeated four-time Congress MP in Faridabad LS election with a record 4.6 lakh margin. Though he is not contesting, much depends on the poll results and post-election parleys.