Looking from a distance, the BJP looks to be in a dilemma whether to celebrate or mourn its victory in Himachal Pradesh since its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal has lost his seat. However, as per insiders, the verdict is in accordance with the script of the decision-makers in the party. So, Dhumal’s defeat and party’s win may actually call for double celebrations in some party circles!
Dhumal lost to his one-time protégé Rajinder Rana of the Congress from Sujanpur. As per insiders, Dhumal, who is the two-time chief minister of the state and the only leader in state BJP with some mass appeal, was deliberately given a tough segment. Earlier, he lost his Bamsan constituency to delimitation and has to shift to Hamirpur in 2012, from where he won.
If political analysts are to be believed, Dhumal was made the chief ministerial face by the BJP chief Amit Shah with a heavy heart only nine days before the polls. This was done because feedback coming from across made it impossible for the BJP brass to ignore this. Had he been made the chief ministerial candidate early, he would have got the constituency of his choice and the result would have been different.
This time, however, he was fielded from Sujanpur and he had no option but to take the challenge amid talks that Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda may be the parachute chief minister if the BJP comes to power. Now that Dhumal, party’s chief ministerial face, has lost the elections, the rumours of Nadda’s entry into the state politics may come true. Other names making rounds for the top post are those of Ajay Jamwal, who comes from the RSS ranks, and party’s Seraj MLA Jai Ram Thakur.
“With Dhumal’s loss, Jai Ram Thakur, JP Nadda and Ajay Jamwal are the options before the BJP for the chief minister’s post. But they would be more like the proxy CM choices of the Centre much like what Vijay Rupani is in Gujarat rather than the people’s choice,” says senior journalist Shamsher Chandel.
Now, it will be interesting to see who replaces Prem Kumar Dhumal as the chief minister. Will the party pick a candidate from among the elected representatives or thrust someone who was not in contention? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
However, going by the political developments, Dhumal has every reason to sulk!