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CM keeps BJP seniors, ministers guessing on his Dharamshala plans

CM keeps BJP seniors, ministers guessing on his Dharamshala plans

Shimla: In the countdown to impending Dharamshala bypoll to fill-up assembly seat, vacated by Lok Sabha member Krishan Kapoor, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Monday roped-in BJP veteran Shanta Kumar for his out-reach exercise with 'Labharthis' – beneficiaries of government schemes, setting-out clear for winning the seat, and also with a 'record' margin.

Party incharge Mangal Pandey, who is also a cabinet minister in Bihar, sent a note of caution to the party leaders not to lobby for ticket – a decision which should be left to the party.

This apparently seals the prospects of incumbent MP (Kangra) Krishan Kapoor to ask for fielding his son Shashwat Kapoor or Shanta Kumar wanting his man to be given ticket.

To Shanta Kumar's surprise, one of the loyalist ministers, Vipin Singh Parmar (Health), was not included in the party panel formed to handle the poll campaign, and for 'work distribution'. That has left lot of party men in guessing.

It appears that the party has given Chief Minister a free-hand and will enjoy full backing of Mangal Pandey, and RSS ideologue Pawan Rana. Rest will work under his close supervision.

The next cabinet expansion, insiders say, will particularly be determined on the basis of work which every cabinet minister and MLAs puts in at Dharamshala.

The constituency has been divided in four zones. Two other cabinet ministers from Kangra Sraveen Chaudhary— a OBC leader and Bikram Thakur, a Rajput, besides sitting Jawalamukhi MLA Ramesh Dhawala and Deputy Speaker Hans Raj were made incharge, each heading a zone. All Kangra MLAs and party leaders will be at their team members.

The developments comes in the wake of Shanta Kumar declaring that he would take 'retirement' from active politics. This made the Chief Minister to rush to Palampur – hometown of Shanta Kumar, where the two held a closed one-on-one meeting. Shanta retracted from his statement and agreed to campaign in the upcoming poll, which is seen quite crucial for the BJP as Kangra being hot-bed of politics and BJP's strong fortress.

Shanta Kumar was denied ticket in this year Lok Sabha poll and given was rather given to Krishan Kapoor, a cabinet minister – who won by a highest ever votes in the poll.

But, Shanta was obviously not very happy with the way he was told to stay out of the polls undermining his relevance in the state.

Now, the issue of ticket has also become very ticklish for the party as Shanta continues to have considerable influence in Kangra and so being Krishan Kapoor— a Gaddi leader.

Former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who had been keeping a low profile ever since formation of the government under Jai Ram

Thakur, has also started speaking out his mind on the issue of governance and party

matters.

Another key Himachal Pradesh leader J P Nadda, after having been appointed as working president of the party, also will have his say in the tickets. Thus, for Jai Ram Thakur the bypoll for Dharamshala and Pacchad – another vacant seat in Shimla Parliamentary constituency are going to be an acid test.

Ashwani Sharma

Ashwani Sharma

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