Shanta Kumar, veteran BJP leader and sitting MP from Kangra, on Friday opted out of the race for Lok Sabha ticket.
“I won’t fight elections this time. I want the party to field a younger leader,” the 84-year-old leader told The Indian Express.
The announcement came after hectic discussions in the state BJP leadership. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and state BJP president Satpal Singh Satti have been camping in Delhi for the past two days.
Significantly, in the first BJP list, veteran leader L K Advani was denied the ticket. Speculation was rife that other senior leaders could meet the same fate.
However, state BJP president Satti said not fighting the elections was Shanta’s personal decision. “Now the parliamentary board will decide the candidate,” he said. “We’ll meet tonight.”
Among the front-runners in the ticket race are Trilok Kapoor and Kripal Parmar.
Sources said Union Health Minister J P Nadda could also be fielded if the party settles on a leader of stature to replace the sitting MP.
Shanta claims he has not recommended any name for the ticket. “It’s for the party to decide. We are a democratic party. I can’t decide on my successor,” he said.