The BJP is working overtime to solve the ticket tangle for Himachal Pradesh, the state it is trying to wrest from the Congress after the November 9 Assembly polls. To arrive at a consensus for distributing tickets for at least half dozen seats for the 68-member House, the party in the last 24 hours has held several meetings, twice with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thrice with BJP national president Amit Shah. But it has failed to release a list so far. According to reports, the top leadership of the party at its Parliamentary Board, which resumed a seat-wise discussions to clear the candidates’ list, is yet to accomplish the task of finalising the first list.
The meeting was resumed afresh this morning and till late evening, state’s entire leadership, including former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Union Health Minister J P Nadda, BJP veteran Shanta Kumar, party in-charge Mangal Pandey, election in-charge Thawar Chand Gehlot, state party president Satpal Satti and Organising Secretary Pawan Rana — a key RSS man, were not through with a final list.
It’s learnt that the draft list was cleared late last night, but held back after Prime Minister put a condition that he wanted at least six women candidates to be fielded in the state. Former Minister Shraveen Chaudhary, State Mahila Morcha president Indu Goswami and a young face, were among those proposed. Till the time of filing this report, there was no decision on seats like Palampur, Dharamshala, Shimla, Arki and Jandauta. Palampur being home town of Shanta Kumar was also in the “disputed” category as he wanted former MLA Praveen Sharma, but name of Indu Goswami was also under consideration.
“It should be out tonight .There are going to be some surprises. Few names, not heard by many, have been put forward at the last stage and were told to be considered by making amendments in the list earlier cleared by the state election body during its meeting in Chandigarh,” said a party source. Sources added that as Amit Shah had to leave for Ahmedabad, party leaders were confused if the list will be released partially or at one go. Another reason attributed for the delay was infighting as both Dhumal and Nadda camps had their names to push. A sitting MLA said: “We need a face and grounded persons to contest the seats. We can’t underestimate Virbhadra Singh and his capacity to cut the political rivals or even decimate them. Hope the top leadership gets this message.”