A central BJP team of observers is likely to land here on Thursday afternoon to confer with senior party leaders on the government formation even as the party’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal, who lost in the November 9 Himachal Assembly polls, ruled himself out of the race for the chief minister’s post.
The central BJP team comprises Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar, who have been nominated observers by the BJP’s parliamentary board, and Mangal Pandey, the party’s in-charge of Himachal Pradesh. Although no meeting of the BJP’s legislature party has been scheduled for Thursday, the central team is expected to stay over for deliberations.
Meanwhile, two days after the Assembly polls results were announced, Dhumal on Wednesday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah for steering the party to victory in the state but said he was “surprised” by his own defeat in the Assembly elections and was “coming to terms” with it.
Asked if he was still a contender for the top post in the state, Dhumal told The Indian Express, “Absolutely not. I am happy the BJP has come back to power with a decisive mandate. My personal loss does not come in the way of this big victory in Himachal Pradesh. We have done marvellous.”
“Although the BJP had set itself a 50-plus target in Himachal, the party could not make it a grand show due to my personal defeat and the defeat of some other senior MLAs. This was never expected. It has surprised me. But the larger goal of ousting the Congress from power has been achieved,” he said over phone from his village Samirpur in Hamirpur district.
Dhumal dismissed the speculation on the reasons for his defeat and said his services were available to the party. “I will be happy in whatever role the party decides for me. I have accepted the defeat with all humility. I am just taking some time to come terms with it,” he said. “We fought the polls in the name of Modiji and strategy and planning was done by Amit Shah. This was good team work. The people of Himachal Pradesh also reposed their faith in us. I did my duty which was given to me.”
On his future role, Dhumal said, “First, we have to form the government, an issue which the central leadership is handling. Thereafter, at the state level, we will do a hard introspection as to why some of our top leaders lost the poll despite such a well-worked campaign strategy. I am indebted to the BJP national president who declared my name as the chief ministerial candidate.”
“Those who lost should not get disappointed and winners should run the government to work on party’s vision document. Our goal for Congress-mukt Himachal is accomplished.”