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Central BJP team in Shimla today as CM race hots up

Elected for the fifth time, Jairam was party’s state president when BJP returned to power in 1998.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla |
December 20, 2017 12:28:30 am
Jairam Thakur Jairam Thakur (left) at BJP office in Shimla Tuesday. (Express Photo by Pradeep Kumar)

BJP leader Jairam Thakur, who has emerged as one of the CM candidates for Himachal Pradesh after the defeat of the party’s chief ministerial face Prem Kumar Dhumal in the poll battle, was greeted at the party headquarters in Shimla with ladoos and slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ on Tuesday. A two-member team, led by Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narinder Singh Tomar, along with party in-charge Mangal Pandey are scheduled to reach Shimla on Wednesday for consultations on the leadership issue.

Elected for the fifth time, Jairam was party’s state president when BJP returned to power in 1998. Party insiders revealed that during the campaign itself, BJP president Amit Shah, who had addressed a rally in Jairam Thakur’s remote constituency Seraj, had announced that if elected, Thakur would get a big responsibility in the new government.

The view was endorsed by Union ministers J P Nadda and Smriti Irani. Before party announced Dhumal’s name, Nadda was seen as another probable candidate to picked as BJP’s CM face. Another factor weighing in Thakur’s favour is that Mandi has been swept by the BJP.

“I don’t know anything about the leadership. It’s up to the top leadership, and central parliamentary board to take a call. But the fact is that the BJP has won the election. My district Mandi ranks number one in the victory by sweeping nine out of 10 Assembly seats. One Independent is also going to support us,” said Thakur.

Meanwhile, there were indications that former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was also being persuaded by loyalists to accept the offer of some MLAs who have expressed readiness to vacate the seat for him. Varinder Kanwar, a four-time MLA from Kutlehar, was first to make such an offer, but it was quickly declined by Dhumal.

The name of Shimla MLA Suresh Bhardwaj, a former party president and former Rajya Sabha MP, is also doing the rounds as candidate who could be picked by the party for the state’s top job.

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