Numerous leaders are running as Independents after 11 current MLAs withdrew out of the contest, which is made more difficult by Jai Ram Thakur’s shaky control of the party
Unexpected Visit of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unexpectedly visited the Karsog seat in his native Mandi district, on Wednesday. While such visits could be typical in the run-up to elections, Thakur’s visit had a distinct objective. Yuvraj Kapoor, the former BJP MLA from the seat, has filed his nomination as a rebel candidate after being refused the ticket by Karsog, and the CM’s services had been requested to make repairs.
The Kapoor camp claims that Deep Raj, a “outsider,” has replaced Kapoor. Following his plea for peace, Thakur asserted that everything had been resolved and that BJP support was more important to its leaders than other factors. Not many people, though, are satisfied, and they are waiting till October 29, when nominations can no longer be withdrawn.
One of the numerous constituencies where the BJP, which is renowned for its rigid rules and regulations, is forced to deal with unhappy leaders and potential uprisings is Karsog. The choice to field multiple new candidates instead of the 11 incumbent MLAs is one of the primary causes. Prem Kumar Dhumal, a former chief minister of the state, was one of the most shocking absence which is likely bring an end to his lengthy tenure there.
Sanjay Sood, a newcomer, has been chosen to compete in Shimla (Urban) in place of Suresh Bharadwaj, a seasoned champion who has been relocated to the neighbourhood of Kasumpti. Bharadwaj added that the high command “may do as it wills” while expressing his surprise.
Mandal organisations and district units have claimed that “outsiders” received tickets while long-time members went unnoticed. At least 13 disgruntled leaders, have submitted separate nominations. Hundreds of party employees in the Dharamshala mandal unit have quit their positions in protest at Vipin Neharia’s ticket denial. Former monarch Maheshwar Singh of Kullu was unexpectedly denied a ticket because his son was running as an Independent.
Tickets were made after internal feedback from the party
According to the party, judgments about tickets were made after organisational responses and surveys were shared with the central election committee. However, insiders acknowledged that “far more” than “few rebels” were to blame for the problems in Himachal. And, that despite arduous efforts by Himachal-native J P Nadda, national head of the BJP, and Union minister Anurag Thakur, there has been no success so far in appeasing the renegade candidates.
Given that a number of the state’s seats only have a few thousand voters each, even a slight difference in the number of votes cast can have a significant impact.
Himachal has mainly been left in the hands of Nadda and Anurag Thakur due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah being preoccupied with preparations for the Gujarat polls, where the party’s interests are higher. The stakes could not be greater for Nadda, who is anticipated to receive a year-long extension as party leader because the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are thought to be too close for a change.
The situation is so critical that the BJP has given those who decide to run against its preferred candidates as Independents an ultimatum that there will be no “ghar wapsi” for at least six years.
While there is dissatisfaction within the ranks of the Congress as well, the damage to the main opposition party has been limited as a result of the party’s retention of the majority of its sitting MLAs and the fact that several of its disgruntled leaders left much earlier than they did for the BJP, where problems began after the ticket distribution.
BJP leaders acknowledge that doubts over Jai Ram Thakur’s leadership are what is escalating the tensions. Thakur, a last-minute replacement after Dhumal, the BJP’s CM face, lost his seat in the 2017 Assembly elections, is well-liked by the general public but has limited control over the party apparatus.
The opposition started attacking the BJP
The BJP has come under fire from the opposition, claiming that it is campaigning on matters that have no bearing on the state. The BJP, on the other hand, is confident that Modi’s continued popularity will overcome despite this.
“The party predicts that we would be able to close the gap once the PM begins campaigning in Himachal. We faced a comparable challenge in Uttarakhand, but thanks to the PM’s reputation and the success of the Central government’s social programs, we easily prevailed,” a BJP leader said.
In response to a question regarding the BJP’s internal issues, its election co-incharge Devendra Rana said that the party would win while referencing “multi-level feedback” and “360-degree analysis” during a recent press conference. “Favouritism does not exist… It will be obvious that the BJP is the most professional organisation in the world if you conduct thorough research into how the election management and due diligence were done by that organisation,” he added.