Making a tactical change in its strategy for the Lok Sabha polls,Bharatiya Janata Party is not averse to fielding a sitting MLA from politically hot Kangra parliamentary constituency.
Party insiders today confirmed that Dr Rajan Sushant,a former minister and BJPs fire-brand leader,could be chosen as Shanta Kumars successor in Kangra. Veteran leader Shanta Kumar,a Rajya Sabha member,will not contest for the Lok Sabha this time.
Ahead of the partys election committee meeting convened at New Delhi on January 19,party leaders have talked to Shanta Kumar to know his opinion on fielding a new face to take on the Congress in lower Himachal belt.
Shanta Kumar had earlier favoured Dr Rajeev Bhardwaj,a district BJP leader. But opting not to put the seat at risk,Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal suggested that other options be explored.
The two names that have cropped up of Rajan Sushant,four time MLA,and Cabinet minister Krishan Kapoor,a Gaddi,who defeated former Congress minister Chandresh Kumari from Dharamshala .
Congress is expected to refield Chander Kumar,an OBC leader who defeated Shanta Kumar in 2004. In this light,the two OBC leaders that BJP has in mind are Sraveen Chaudhry and Ramesh Dhawala,both Cabinet ministers.
Its true that the party is ready to consider sitting MLAs for the seat. The state election committee,at its meeting in Delhi,will finalise the candidate,or suggest two names to Shanta Kumar,to know his choice, confirmed state BJP president Jairam Thakur. The central parliamentary board of BJP also will meet same day to consider names of Himachal Lok Sabha candidates.
For Hamirpur,the the central parliamentary board of the party has announced the name of Dhumals son Anurag Thakur,a sitting member.
Mandi and Shimla,the two constituencies that BJP lost in 2004,will also be discussed. Dhumal has held a meeting with party workers of Shimla,Solan and Sirmaur districts to see if any candidate is chosen by consensus,but the exercise has not worked. HN Kashyap and Virender Kashyap are being considered here,and the former may have an edge.
In Mandi,the party may field Maheshwar Singh,a former MP,who was denied ticket to contest the state assembly election in 2007. Here too,Jairam Thakur was given the option,but he declined to contest. Maheshwar Singh has local opposition,which the party hopes to overcome before the elections.