Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal may have managed to retain his existing flock of sitting MLAs in BJPs first list of candidates for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls,but Mission Repeat 2012 is likely to rest largely on the second list that is going to be finalised early next month.
On Friday,the BJPs national parliamentary board cleared 45 names. Barring four new faces including a serving IAS officer (Rampur) the list is overwhelmingly dominated by sitting MLAs.
Despite facing public ire because of non-performance or controversies,sitting MLAs will be contesting the polls as the party has failed to replace them with better options – atleast based on the field surveys. Dhumal had hinted of replacing 25 to 30 per cent of MLAs to bring in new faces,but this has not happened in the first list.
The real tussle for tickets,however,remains under wraps in constituencies having strong contenders and being loyalist of either Dhumal or Shanta Kumar.
In Solan – a district identified largely with former health minister Rajeev Bindal and his controversies – the issue of private universities opened here and cases of land sales to outsiders are already on the Congress radar. Bindal,as expected,has been moved to Nahan in Sirmaur district with Dhumal backing.
Only seven names including two sitting ministers – Krishan Kapoor (Dharamshala) and Sraveen Chaudhry – have been cleared in Kangra while the fate of IPH minister Ravinder Ravi,a Dhumal loyalist whose constituency (Thural) was scrapped by the Delimitation Commission,still hangs in the balance with Shanta Kumar scuttling his plans to contest from Jawalamukhi – the constituency of Food and Supplies minister Ramesh Dhawala. Ravi and Dhawala do not see eye-to-eye due to camp rivalry and the former is not ready to sacrifice his seat.
Eight constituencies in Kangra – a political hotspot – are yet to be decided. Dhumal has also not been able to persuade Shanta Kumar to re-admit Rakesh Pathania,a potential BJP candidate in Nurpur who had won as an Independent in 2007 and is a close confidant of Dhumal.
I can only thank Dhumal for his backing during in the past five years. My status will remain unchanged. I will be contesting as Independent and hand-over this seat to Dhumals tally on his victory and my election, Pathania told The Indian Express.
Fielding Rakesh Verma from Theog against CLP leader Vidya Stokes is a significant development to corner Stokes where CPM has also announced former MLA Rakesh Singhas name.
While Dhumal has made it clear he will contest from Hamirpur,sitting MLA Urmil Thakur has been accommodated at Sujanpur quite reluctantly as Rajinder Rana,former aide of Dhumal,has already thrown his hat in the ring to contest the polls even if the BJP deny him a ticket.
The constituency of Bilaspur – represented by National BJP general secretary J P Nadda is also a hot potato with former MP Suresh Chandel staking his claim while rumours abound of Naddas wife Malika Nadda,which have been rubbished by Nadda.