Free Press Journal

BJP may pick an MLA as new Himachal Pradesh chief minister


New Delhi/Shimla: The BJP, which returned to power in Himachal Pradesh with a thumping majority, may pick one of its MLAs as the state’s new chief minister, with five-time MLA Jairam Thakur being seen as a frontrunner, according to indications today. Union ministers Nirmala Sitaraman and Narendra Singh Tomar, who are BJP’s central observers, reached Shimla today to hold consultations with the newly elected party MLAs to elicit their views and arrive at consensus on the name of a new chief minister.

A senior BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity that there is a strong view in the party to pick one of the elected MLAs to head the government in the hill state. The name of the new leader is likely to be announced tomorrow. The shock defeat of the party’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal, who has been the state’s chief minister for two full terms, opened up the race for the top post, bringing Union minister JP Nadda into the contention.

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Nadda hails from the state and is a Rajya Sabha member. Both Sitharaman and Tomar met the party’s state unit core committee, which includes Dhumal, state party chief Satpal Singh Satti, all the five MPs from the state and organisation secretary Pawan Rana.

The observers are also meeting the MLAs individually to elicit their views and the leader would be elected by consensus at a meeting of all elected lawmakers, party sources said. The party won 44 seats in the 68-member assembly. 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.

But several other leaders including the party veteran and Lok Sabha member from Kangra Shanta Kumar opposed the move and said the party has a clear majority and there are several leaders capable of leading the party and that electing a defeated leader would send wrong signals, sources said.