Discontent seems to be brewing in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party hours after declaration of candidates for the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.
Trouble is likely in capital Shimla itself with MLA and law minister Suresh Bhardwaj in the Jai Ram Thakur government reportedly unhappy with the change of his seat this time. He has been declared the candidate from the Kasumpti assembly constituency in the list released on Wednesday.
“Bhardwaj ji has told JP Nadda ji that it is just 20 days left for campaign on the new seat. He had done everything, from meeting voters to man-to-man marking, from the Shimla seat for which he was going to contest," stated a party source.
According to insiders, he might withdraw from the elections if the party doesn’t ensure rebels withdraw and support the BJP candidate.
Vijay Jyoti who had earlier contested two polls in 2012 as an independent and in 2017 as a BJP candidate and lost both times from Kasumpti, says she will fight as an independent contestant again. This, sources said, will damage the chances of the BJP winning that seat.
“If the party won’t take the ticket back, I will contest as an independent. There are 5,000 supporters at my place to register their support for me. I have communicated this to the party high command, " said Vijay Jyoti while speaking to News18.
She further said that it is unfair to the people of Kasumpti and to minister Bhardwaj as well. “Had the party given the ticket to someone from Kasumpti it would have been acceptable to us,” she said.
Among those disappointed is former Nalagarh BJP MLA KL Thakur, who has announced he will contest independently after being denied, sources in the party stated.
In Dharamshala, former Congress leader Rakesh Chaudhary joined the BJP recently and has secured the ticket. The local BJP unit has expressed displeasure over this with MLA Vishal Nehria being snubbed, said sources.
The BJP has fielded a former CPM leader Lokinder Kumar from Anni by replacing MLA Kishori Lal. This has surprised as well as annoyed many ideological loyalists of the saffron party in the state, insiders said.
Sources said trouble in the state unit started soon after the announcement of seats by the party. It is understood that several of these leaders also apprised the central BJP leadership over the change and denial of seats.
The challenge for the BJP will be to stop rebel candidates from filing nominations against the official candidates of the party. If this happens, the saffron party will suffer and may lose several close contests due to vote-cutting by rebels, sources said.