Call it a ‘golden’ opportunity to assert, former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister (CM), Shanta Kumar, 84, emerged as a ‘graceful elder’ in the sudden turn of events after poll results on 18 December.
Shanta, who was a reluctant visitor to the state capital during the previous BJP regime from 2007-2012 for state BJP meetings, participated in all meetings over five days in the run up to the choice of new CM, which was facilitated by the defeat of the BJP’s CM face, Prem Kumar Dhumal, his arch rival.
“Everyone is happy with the election results. The BJP has got 44 seats this time,” he instantly said, refusing to add further in the midst of discussions between 19 to 24 December.
While most of the party high ups were tight-lipped on the issue of new CM, Shanta, rising to his stature took a popular public posture that the ‘CM should be from amongst elected candidates.’ A stand that was appreciated in public and went in favour of five-time MLA, Jai Ram Thakur, more than any other aspirant in BJP.
The other names doing the rounds were those of Dhumal and Union minister, JP Nadda and for both of them, a by-election was required, which supposedly was not appreciated even by the party high command.
Shanta did not support or oppose a name publically, but kept hammering his viewpoint not only this, he even snubbed some people, who were trying to grab limelight by raising slogans in the name of a particular leader before the central observers, who were here to hold consultations on the choice.
“You don’t become CM by raising slogans,” Shanta told the media, while denouncing the act as that of ‘indiscipline.’
Shanta later attended the oath ceremony of Jai Ram Thakur on the Ridge on Wednesday and was seen pleasantly moving around, witnessing the ‘change of era’ in the state BJP with a smile.
It is pertinent to mention that Shanta Kumar and former BJP CM, Dhumal have been arch rivals over the last two decades.
Shanta became CM of Himachal Pradesh in 1977 and 1990, while Dhumal became CM in 1998 and 2007.
BJP insiders said in 1998, the BJP saw a transition of leadership from Shanta to Dhumal.
Dhumal emerged to fore with support of Union minister, JP Nadda, who was the leader of the BJP Legislature Party in HP then.