Himachal Polls: Rebels in ruling BJP may play spoilsport
Rebels within the ruling BJP may cost it more than the main opposition Congress for the elections to the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly on November 12.
Shimla, Oct 25 (IANS) Rebels within the ruling BJP may cost it more than the main opposition Congress for the elections to the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly on November 12.
Political observers say the rebels are more vocal in the BJP compared to the Congress, though both parties have been gripped with infighting, besides the ruling party facing anti-incumbency.
The BJP last week cleared its last list of candidates, denying the party ticket to 11 sitting legislators, shifting seats of two ministers, denying nomination to one minister, whose son has been fielded from that constituency, and swapping seats of two veterans owing to infighting.
Most of the ticket aspirants have threatened to contest as independents as there is no new political outfit this time.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in its maiden fray to the Assembly polls, has announced 58 of its 68 candidates.
The prominent saffron faces who were denied ticket include legislator Kishori Lal from Anni and BJP state vice-president Ram Singh from Kullu.
In Mandi, the home district of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, and Kullu districts, the prominent rebels include Abhishek Thakur, son of six-time legislator Roop Singh, from Sundernagar; Gyan Chauhan from Nachan and Hiteshwar Singh, the son of Maheshwar Singh, from Banjar. They have filed their nominations as independent.
However, Maheshwar Singh, the scion of the erstwhile Kullu estate, is the BJP's candidate from Kullu town. Singh's nomination has left BJP state vice-president Ram Singh furious.
Political observers told IANS that the BJP is facing strong dissent after the allocation of tickets in Dharampur, Karsog, Jogindernagar and Darang constituencies in Mandi district, which may upset BJP's applecart.
From Dharampur, the stronghold of Cabinet minister Mohinder Thakur, the BJP has nominated his son Rajat Thakur from where the lawmaker's daughter Vandana Guleria has raised a banner of revolt.
She accused his father of promoting patriarchy. She asked the party that why the daughters are denied their rights amidst its welfare programmes to empower womenfolk like Beti Hai Anmol.
As the name of his brother cleared, Vandana resigned from the post of general secretary of the BJP Mahila Morcha.
At Karsog constituency, supporters of BJP MLA Hira Lal have been gunning the BJP high command for giving ticket to a new candidate.
Supporters of former BJP minister Gulab Singh Thakur, the father-in-law of Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur, are upset as the party has given ticket to Prakash Rana, the sitting legislator from Jogindernagar who won the election as an independent.
The BJP has even ignored the claim of its veteran and two-time chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was keen to avenge his 2017 poll defeat at the hands of his one-time protege Rajinder Singh Rana of the Congress by entering the fray again from Sujanpur in Hamirpur district.
"Will contest if the party asks me," Dhumal, 78, the father of Union minister Anurag Thakur, was often quoted as saying before the announcement of the list.
As the party registered a handsome win in 2017, the party's chief ministerial candidate Dhumal faced defeat in a straight contest by 1,919 votes in Sujanpur, the seat in his home district of Hamirpur, where he was asked to contest from despite his reluctance.
Upset supporters of Cabinet ministers Suresh Bhardwaj and Rakesh Pathania are questioning the high command over changing their stronghold seats at the last minute.
In politically significant Kangra district, sitting lawmaker Ramesh Dhawla shifted to Dehra from Jawalamukhi, while former minister Ravinder Singh Ravi, a loyalist of Dhumal who announced to quit the BJP if denied party's ticket, shifted to Jawalamukhi from his traditional seat Dehra.
Ravi lost to the independent legislator Hoshyar Singh, who joined the BJP in June.
Chief Minister Thakur was keen to field Hoshyar Singh from Dehra but Dhumal opposed his nomination. He even apprised BJP national President Jagat Prakash Nadda about the possibility of 'revolt' by former minister Ravi for ignoring his interest.
After denying party's ticket, Hoshyar Singh said he was receiving threats of raids by the Enforcement Directorate. He said he had nothing to hide and investigating agencies could check all his bank accounts.
Justifying the changes in ticket allocations, a senior BJP leader told IANS: "In a bid to counter the anti-incumbency factor, we have introduced new faces and changes seats."
The Congress, too, is not lagging in infighting.
Upset over the denial of a ticket, seven-time lawmaker Gangu Ram Musafir announced to contest as an independent from the pocket borough Pachhad in Sirmaur district.
BJP leader Indu Verma, the wife of three-time lesgilator Rakesh Verma, in July joined the Congress. She was inducted into the party for giving a shot in the arm but she was denied the party ticket from her husband's stronghold Theog in Shimla district.
Her joining came after former BJP state president Khimi Ram had switched over to the Congress. He is in fray from Banjar in Kullu district.
Polling in Himachal Pradesh will take place on November 12, while the counting of ballots on December 8. The last date for the withdrawal of nomination is October 29.
By October 29, the picture of rebels and disgruntled leaders pose challenge on how many seats and to which party more will be clear.
There are over 55 lakh eligible voters in the state for 68 assembly seats. 1.86 lakh of these are first-time voters whereas 1.22 lakh aged 80-plus, according to the Election Commission of India.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])