Shimla May, 2: Learning from the 2012 experience when politically significant Kangra gave it a thumbs down, the BJP in the coming Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh is not taking any chances. Party president Amit Shah, during his two-day visit to the state on May 3 and 4, will operate out of the region and there are several reasons behind his politically-strategic move, sources say. Riding high on the successes in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and more recently Delhi MC elections, a buoyant saffron party is all set to reclaim the hill state that favoured the Congress party in the last Assembly elections. Party leaders concede the road to Shimla goes via Kangra — a region which because of deep divisions and infighting in the local leadership delivered the BJP just three seats in 2012.
And this, despite the largest district — covering the most-challenging parts of the state — being a traditional saffron stronghold. As per the sources, Amit Shah, during his two-day stay, will hold back-to-back meetings covering various issues related to BJP’s functioning in all parts. However, the choice of venue is significant given the general feeling of “neglect” that the region, from where BJP’s veteran leader Shanta Kumar also comes from, appears to be harbouring.
The party chief, they say, wants to disseminate a strong massage of saffron’ presence in the district holding around 17 Assembly seats. Though the BJP is unlikely to project a CM candidate in the upcoming elections to avoid frictions among various factions party leaders say apart from Gujarat, where the BJP may go to polls under the leadership of incumbent Vijay Rupani, the 73-year old former Himachal CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, as of now, is not on Shah’s radar. In that sense, the 82-year-old Shanta Kumar is also way beyond the age limit set by the all-powerful Sangh for ministerial posts but given his political relevance in the region, the party would like him to remain by its side in all ways as it readies for Himachal polls later this year. Sources say the leadership is also in touch with former member Rajan Sushant, who resigned from the post of AAP convener last year.
A BJP rebel Sushant was a state minister in the Dhumal government and was also elected to the Lok Sabha from Kangra in 2009 on the BJP ticket. Despite his history of past differences with BJP leaders in the state, including Shanta Kumar and Dhumal, his political relevance makes him a good case for homecoming. The sources say Union Minister JP Nadda has been making efforts and Sushant, along with other sulking leaders, would be part of the saffron brigade “soon”. Amit Shah is trying to make the saffron magic work the same way in Himachal like it worked in UP & Uttrakhand.
Source Tribune India