Power struggle puts BJP in a fix over CM candidate in HP

Written by Mukesh Ranjan | New Delhi, Oct 21 | Updated: Oct 22 2007, 05:34am hrs
Contrasting the Gujarat model where the party has gone overboard in announcing that it will face the electorate in the next round of Assembly elections in December under the leadership of chief minister Narendra Modi, the BJP is facing a predicament of sorts in finalising its chief ministerial candidate for Himachal Pradesh.

The dilemma in Himachal emanates from power struggle among three factions in the state unit of the party. Though there appears to be a direct fight for the candidature between party MP from HamirpurPrem Kumar Dhumal and former chief minister and partys national vice president Santa Kumar, the third dimension to the feud has been added by a group of leaders of state unit led by Jai Ram Thakur and Mohinder Pande, the state president and organizing secretary, who are opposed to either of the two in favour of a new face.

Given the competing positions held by the three factions in the party, the BJP has decided to hit the campaign trail with the concept of collective leadership, as announcing this officially after a meeting of party leaders here early last week, Sat Pal Jain, partys in-charge in the state, said,

We will not nominate anyone as our candidate for the post of chief minister before the completion of the elections. When the poll process in the state are over the BJP parliamentary board will take a decision on the issue in consultation with newly elected party MLAs.

When asked about the dilemma in the party over the issue, a senior central party functionary said, Its easy to settle leadership issue in a state where party rules and point in case is Gujarat. But when you dont rule, every faction stakes its claim and if you announce your chief ministerial candidate, it becomes difficult to keep your folks united in the run-up to the elections.

Meanwhile, in an apparent move to scuttle any attempt by either of the factions to score over others, the party high command has recently censored and issued a show cause notice to leader of Opposition in the state assembly ID Dhiman, who had said that next government in the state would be formed under the leadership of Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Dhimans statement has no approval from the party high command and so does not carry any weight, Jain said adding that he advised the leaders and workers of the party not to approach the press on such crucial issues.