In nearly 60 years of public life, first as a junior minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s Cabinet and then as the chief minister of Himachal, Singh had a long rivalry with two BJP stalwarts – Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal. Chaudhary lost to Congress’ Geniben Thakor by over 6,500 votes; Chauhan by 972 votes to Shivabhai Bhuriya from Deodar. He kept trailing Rana right from the beginning.
NDTV has learnt that more such offers may be made in the days to come, as the BJP debates who will be its chief minister in Himachal Pradesh. What has added to the woes of the party and Mr. Dhumal is the lost of the state party president, Satpal Satti and another senior leader, Ravinder Ravi narrowing down the choice to these two leaders. Given Himachal’s record of keeping leaders on their toes, BJP can not afford to lose sight of these goals with general election due in 2019. The results, however, failed to dampen the spirit of Dhumal’s supporters. For Dhumal, it was about starting from scratch and he had to build a fresh connect with the voter.
‘I was not expecting a defeat. However, a personal loss hardly matters when people trusted the party. “We lost not to people’s power but money power of the BJP”, he said in a tweet.
Mr Singh is believed to have an uneasy relationship with Gandhi while Dhumal has to compete with younger faces like Union health minister J.P. Nadda.
Dhumal may contest a bypoll if Kanwar vacates his seat for him.
The party sources said the BJP high command has already started looking for the head to bestow the crown of Chief Minister.
The race for Dhumal’s replacement has also begun.
After a meeting of its parliamentary board, BJP announced that Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union minister for rural development Narendra Tomar would visit the state and talk to leaders before a CM is announced.
Dhumal, who had won the last election from Hamirpur constituency, had reservations about contesting from Sujanpur. He, however, won the 1989 and 1991 Lok Sabha elections. A decision on the new Chief Minister will be taken in a day or two. Jai Ram, who has won the Siraj constituency for the sixth time in a row has led the state BJP in the past.
Mr Singh, a six-time chief minister, a scion of the Rampur-Bushahr royal family, and often called “rajaji” for his royal lineage, registered a win from Arki despite the Congress receiving a drubbing.