A sufferer of bitter ‘Dhumal-Shanta’ rift in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh, a former minister from Solan, Mohinder Nath Sofat, who was shown the door twice by party in 15 years, last time in 2012, can hope for a ‘home-coming’.
Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur dropped a hint in this regard and asked Sofat, a staunch Shanta loyalist, to share the stage with him at a public function in Solan on Sunday.
“It is the beginning of the new era for state and the BJP. We have a new, young and honest BJP CM, Jai Ram Thakur who holds a lot of promise and wants to end the regional divide. I think I also need to change with time,” Sofat, 65, told media persons in an informal chat.
“I haven’t had any talk in BJP so far. But CM during his visit to Solan two days ago gave me a lot of respect. So let’s see. It is a positive signal,” he said.
“Although I had been associated with ABVP, RSS since younger days and with BJP since its foundation in 1980, I had to stay out of the party due to personal prejudices,” he added.
Sofat was ousted from the party in a ‘circumstantial’ twist of events after the 1998 Assembly elections, when Prem Kumar Dhumal became CM for the first time.
In the 1998 polls, during counting, first Sofat was declared elected with one vote in the Solan Assembly constituency. However, recounting was done twice at the instance of then Congress government and ultimately, Sofat was defeated by 26 votes and his opponent of Congress, Krishna Mohini was declared elected.
“I went to the High Court and won the case. Then Mohini went to the Supreme Court, which again upheld the judgement of High Court in my favour. In 2000, when the by-poll took place, the party did not give me ticket. I did not oppose.
But I was expelled from the party later. I was a Director in Food Corporation of India (FCI) that time with Shanta Kumar holding Union ministry of consumer affairs then. However, after I was out of the party, I resigned from there also,” he said.
Sofat contested as an independent in 2003 Assembly elections from Solan and finished second. Before 2012 polls, he joined Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) under the leadership of senior BJP leader, Maheshwar Singh, opening a front against the then BJP government headed by Dhumal on the corruption issue.
The HLP, however, merged with BJP later, Sofat’s re-entry was opposed by certain quarters.
With Jai Ram Thakur becoming CM after Dhumal’s defeat in the 2017 Assembly polls and former CM, Shanta Kumar too regaining say in state politics, Sofat’s supporters are hopeful of his ‘come back’ now.