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BJP to Pick New Himachal CM Today, JP Nadda May Leave Modi Cabinet for the Hills

A meeting of BJP MLAs to be held today to decide the name of Himachal Pradesh chief minister. Jairam Thakur, JP Nadda are the front runners for the top post.

Updated:December 24, 2017, 11:13 AM IST
BJP to Pick New Himachal CM Today, JP Nadda May Leave Modi Cabinet for the Hills
File photo of JP Nadda. (Image: Jagat Prakash Nadda/Twitter)
New Delhi: Caste considerations, apart from other issues seems to have been key factors which tilted the scales in favour of Union Health Minister JP Nadda in Himachal Pradesh Chief Ministerial race.

After a protracted battle within, Nadda is inching closer to the finishing line, pipping other contenders to head the next BJP government in the state.

The suspense over the appointment of the new Chief Minister in HP extended for almost a week since BJP won a two-thirds majority in the hill state earlier this week.

Reports from Shimla now suggest that former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal — a strong contended despite defeat in the elections —has finally conceded.

Five-time party MLA Jairam Thakur was also in the CM race, but lost out to Nadda who is seen to be close to the BJP’s current central leadership.

Electoral politics in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh — as in Uttarakhand — is dominated by the upper caste. And within the upper caste, faultlines run deep with the numerically and socially dominant Brahmins and Rajputs vying for a larger share in the spoils of power.

Earlier this year, Trivendra Singh Rawat, a Rajput by caste, was nominated by BJP as the Uttarakhand Chief Minister. Rawat's elevation was seen as an indication that the party might choose to do the same in Himachal Pradesh and hand over the leadership baton to a Brahmin, if it were to win in the otherwise Congress-ruled state.

This guiding axiom in CM selection has been referred to by both the national parties in equal measures in the past. The attempt is to maintain a delicate power balance between the dominant social groups.

In fact, intra-party politics in both states is also guided by the same principle. As a derivative of this caste calculus, both Congress and BJP, over the years have projected one Brahmin and one Rajput face. They always come in pairs — Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal, Virbhadra Singh and Sukh Ram.

With Sukh Ram facing the corruption taint, Congress sought to replace him with Anand Sharma. In the case of BJP, Union Health Minister JP Nadda has emerged as a strong contender to take the baton from Shanta Kumar.

Nadda, who is the former BJP Yuva Morcha President, has risen up the ranks from student union politics. He's also served as a minister in Dhumal government earlier.

In the prevailing caste matrix, Nadda was thus seen as a clear challenger to stake claim for the top post.

Nadda’s name was also considered when BJP elected its National President after 2014 elections victory after Rajnath Singh had joined the Modi government.

The party instead chose Amit Shah. Nadda was accommodated in the union cabinet and made member of the all powerful Parliamentary Board and Central Election Committee.

With his nomination as HP chief minister, he seems to have been adequately compensated.
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