NEW DELHI: The continued logjam in the BJP over the selection of the Chief Minister in Himachal Pradesh, even after securing a decisive mandate in the Hill State, not only has brought out the divisions within the party in the open but continues to take toll of good governance in the Hill State.
BJP president, Amit Shah had deputed the Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman and Narinder Singh Tomar as party observers to oversee the election of the new leader after holding consultations with the senior Himachal BJP leaders including newly elected MLAs and MPs. However, both the observers returned back to Delhi last evening without a conclusive result as sharp differences emerged between factions within the party making things difficult. The ball is now in the court of the party high command including Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Mr. Shah who will now take a final call on the new selection of the new Chief Minister for the state.
What is most surprising is that even after six days of the party securing 44 of the 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, it is still struggling to find a Chief Minister to rule the state. The party Chief Ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal had lost the assembly polls from Sujanpur throwing the party into a tizzy. Following the defeat of Mr. Dhumal and the changed political dynamics at the local and national level, the party started a search for a new Chief Minister. However, supporters of Mr. Dhumal and some party MLAs want the former Chief Minister to be elected as the leader of the legislative party and three of the MLAs have offered to vacate their seats to enable Mr. Dhumal to contest the by-election to enable him to get elected to the Assembly.
However, this has been opposed by factions within the party. Supporters of five-time MLA from Seraj and a front runner for the Chief MinisterÂs post, Jairam Thakur have opposed installation of Mr. Dhumal stating that the verdict of the people was against him. Mr. Jairam, strongly supported by RSS, has not come out in the open to stake his claim but is learnt to have found favour with the senior party leaders for the top post.
The other contender and Union Health Minister, Jagat Prakash Nadda has remained low profile and has given no indication that he is keen to take up this job. Mr. Nadda has left it to the party leadership to take a call on who should be the next Chief Minister of the State. He is also seen as one of the contenders for the top post in the State with his vast administrative experience as a State Minister and then serving in the party and as the Cabinet Minister in the Modi Government. However, past actions of the BJP have indicated that they are reluctant to send a serving Union Minister as a Chief Minister and would rather go for election of a leader from within the elected MLAs. Interestingly, former Chief Minister, Shanta Kumar has strongly come out against the idea of selecting Mr. Dhumal stating that a leader who has been defeated in the polls should not be made the Chief Minister and a leader should be picked up from within the newly elected MLAs, something that has found favour with a large section of the party.
However, the biggest sufferers of this indecision have been the people of the State. They have been without an effective elected government for the past almost three months now. All developmental and administrative actions had come to a standstill after the announcement of Assembly polls by the Election Commission in October. Since then, there has not been a proper functional government in the state and everything is a state of perpetual suspension. The gap between the elections on November 9 and the counting on December 18 had led to a situation of flux in the government and now the continued delay is does not bode well for the welfare of the state and people at large.