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BJP yet to finalise Himachal CM, Central Observers reach Shimla

Archana Phull | Shimla |

Three days after the Assembly poll results were declared on 18 December in Himachal Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to finalise the Chief Minister.

Central Observers, Union ministers, Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar and party incharge for Himachal, Mangal Pandey arrived in Shimla, but refused to drop any hint on the likely choice.

They met the core committee, addressed the workers and were scheduled to meet the MLAs later to discuss the names.

The observers are meeting the MPs from the state on Friday for their view.

BJP insiders said the Chief Minister’s name is likely to be announced in consultation with the party high command later this week.

The BJP, which made a strong come back in the state by getting 44 seats, is facing lot of confusion now over decision on the new Chief Minister in the wake of its CM face, Prem Kumar Dhumal losing his own election from Sujanpur.

There was uneasy calm on the venue as the BJP MLAs talked of some names, mainly five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur and Union minister, JP Nadda, in hushed tones with no clue on high command’s mind.

Jai Ram Thakur, who is a key face for the Chief Ministership, having a RSS background, was among the MLAs who received the central observers at Jubberhatti airport, while Nadda is in Delhi.

Former BJP Chief Minister and BJP’s CM face for 2017 polls, Prem Kumar Dhumal also reached for the meeting, amidst slogans by his supporters.

The MLAs, however, did not participate much in this loud show of strength, Jai Ram Thakur’s supporters from Seraj segment in Mandi, who had turned out in large numbers, did raise slogans for him to counter.

“It is for the high command to decide on the leader. We will go by the name finalised by the Central Parliamentary Board,” said some senior MLAs.

Sources said till Wednesday, the loyalists of Prem Kumar Dhumal in the state had projected his name as a probable CM along with Nadda and Jai Ram even after his defeat in polls— mentioning that he had support of MLAs.

However, the move reportedly fell through after a snub by the high command. The pressure tactics of camp also could not survive for most of the senior and strong loyalists of Dhumal have already lost the polls themselves.

Sources said the visit of contender for CM’s post, Jai Ram Thakur to Dhumal’s house in Samirpur in Hamirpur district last evening was also being linked with lobbying for the post of CM and a move to oust Nadda from the race.

It is however a common feeling that the high command has the ‘final say’ and the MLAs will only be informed about the choice after an exercise.