Upset with the non-inclusion of former Horticulture Minister Narender Bragta in the newly formed Himachal Pradesh Cabinet despite his seniority, hundreds of his supporters from Jubbal-Kotkhai on Wednesday met former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal at his residence after the swearing-in ceremony.
The supporters apprised Dhumal of their feelings regarding the absence of a representative from the upper-Shimla region, where the BJP has made gradual penetrations in the Congress’ vote bank after Dhumal had become CM in 1998. Bragta was given Cabinet posts by Dhumal twice.
However, with Dhumal losing the assembly elections and the CM post, Bragta has been left out and has found no support. The new CM has preferred Suresh Bhardwaj, the BJP’s Brahmin face, from the district. “Dhumal told Bragta supporters that he will convey their feelings to party high command,” a loyalist said.
Meanwhile supporters of Bikram Jaryal took out a procession on Mall Road after the swearing-in ceremony, raising slogans against the new CM and the party for not giving a Cebinet berth to the two-time MLA from Bhatiyat in Chamba. There were others also discontent with the BJP for missing out on Cabinet posts. Ramesh Dhawala, an OBC leader and former minister from Jawaliji, and Rakesh Pathania, a loyalist of Union Health Minister J P Nadda.
Dhawala was made minister in 1998 – first by the Congress and later by Dhumal despite being an independent whose support had helped in formation of the BJP government. Pathania is three-time MLA and was earlier very close to Dhumal and BJP veteran Shanta Kumar. Kangra district, which has 15 assembly segments of which BJP has won 12, has got four Cabinet ministers – one Gaddi and OBC each and two others Rajput.