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No decision yet on Himachal CM, observers return to Delhi

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

Central observers of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Union Ministers, Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar went back to Delhi on Friday after sensing the mood of party MLAs, state BJP’s core committee on Chief Minister’s choice.

The team, which included the party incharge for Himachal Pradesh, Mangal Pandey, talked to MPs, Shanta Kumar, Virender Kashyap and Ram Swaroop as well, and met RSS office bearers before leaving the state capital.

“We have given our view. The ball is now in high command’s court. They may declare the name from Delhi after the nod of the Central Parliamentary Board,” said the state BJP chief, Satpal Singh Satti.

The BJP meetings charged the environs in Peterhoff (state guest house) as supporters of BJP’s CM face, Prem Kumar Dhumal, who lost the poll, kept raising loud slogans for him in his absence at the venue.

The BJP observers, along with party incharge for HP, Mangal Pandey, met the MLAs to seek their opinion individually.

Sources said except for few of them, majority MLAs said they would go by high command’s choice.

After four days of declaration of poll results on 18 December, the BJP has not been able to finalise on HP CM.

After Dhumal lost, the names of Union minister, Jagat Prakash Nadda from Bilaspur and five-time MLA, Jai Ram Thakur from Mandi are doing the rounds for the top post. Nadda did not turn up for the consultations. But Jai Ram showed his strength with his supporters from constituency Seraj thronging the venue of party meetings.

“We are happy that BJP has come back to power. We are sad that Dhumal lost the poll. The chapter of CM’s choice has opened after this only. Whatever, party high command decides is final,” said Jai Ram Thakur in a guarded language.

Jai Ram, 52, is close to RSS.

He is former state BJP chief and was minister twice in previous Dhumal regimes.

Nadda, 57, is close to the party high command and has organisational and administrative experience at state and national level.

BJP insiders said after the poll results, there was an effort by Dhumal sympathisers camp to push the name of former two-time CM for the top post on the theory that he led the party to victory.

However, while MLAs have not come out openly on their choice, the show of strength by former CM’s supporters through slogan shouting has not gone down well with some party leaders.

Some senior BJP leaders have categorically opposed the claim of Dhumal’s supporters to consider him for CM’s post even after defeat in Assembly poll.