Himachal literally got into election mode on Sunday with both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party holding their separate meetings to take stock of their preparedness for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. But the atmospheres appears to have heated up earlier than expected with senior BJP leader Narender Thakur, son of BJP stalwart late Jagdev Chand, formally joining the rival camp a day later.
Though the party is in denial mode, this appears to be the biggest setback to the saffron party, and especially the Chief Minister, after they came to power in the state. The rise of Prem Kumar Dhumal as the undisputed leader of BJP in the state has been quite phenomenal, and so has been the party’s victory in the recent polls, but the honeymoon period appears to be over for the party with the coming polls demanding fresh strategies.
On the other hand, Congress, at this point, has nothing much to lose, and therefore it can gamble with any idea that crops up in the party’s think tank. Addressing a press conference, Narender Thakur leveled serious allegations against Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur, claiming that the party has been practicing double standards by criticizing Congress at the national level for promoting family members in politics, and at the same time patronizing Dhumal’s family members in the state.
BJP state president Jai Ram Thakur described it as frustration and of no consequence, but Thakur may at least open up a front against the CM in his home turf where he has emerged the undisputed king. The Congress has for years unsuccessfully been trying to dent Dhumal’s reputation in Hamirpur, and this may well be their chance. And BJP’s early announcement to again field Anurag Thakur from the constituency for the Lok Sabha polls may give Thakur some ammo to fire random volleys.Thakur was associated with the BJP for the past 18 years and had unsuccessfully contested the bye-election of HP Vidhan Sabha in 1993 on BJP ticket after the death of his father Jagdev Chand.
It is learnt that efforts are on by the Congress to rope in more BJP leaders from the CM’s home constituency, which now may not appear too difficult considering that Dhumal’s dominance may certainly have affected certain ambitions. Playing it safe, Congress president Kaul Sing Thakur while formally welcoming Narender Thakur at the party head office, said that the party was in no hurry to announce its candidate from Hamirpur.
With no real third option materializing in the state, with BSP’s Vijay Singh Mankotia again walking in the wilderness, the one-to-one Congress vs BJP fight will definitely produce direct casualties, this being a beginning, but the latter is certainly at an disadvantage.
Maybe, it’s a warning for the BJP top brass to hold their stock or else…