Lobbying for Himachal Rajya Sabha Seat Intensifies in BJP

Shimla: With union commerce minister Anand Sharma’s Rajya Sabha seat falling vacant, lobbying for filling the seat with a BJP candidate has intensified as last ditch efforts were being made to arrive at a consensus between the Shanta Kumar – Dhumal factions.

Having shortlisted five names which include Radha Raman Shastri – a former speaker, Chandermohan Thakur, chairman cooperative bank, Bimla Kashyap – president Mahila Morcha, Ashok Kapahtia – BJP spokesman and retired Lt General HS Kanwar, the panel has been forwarded to the party central election board.

Party insiders disclosed that BJP central party board, late on Sunday evening, is to discuss the candidate selection for Himachal and if consensus is arrived at the name is likely to be announced on Monday morning.

Chief minister Dhumal, old guard Shanta Kumar and state party president Khimmi Ram are in Delhi to hold discussions and finalize the candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat, said a party worker.

He disclosed that efforts had been made to shorten the panel down to only 3 names but since the names had been thrown up by the state election committee, it was left for the party high command to decide.

Shanta Kumar is believed to be pursuing the name of old colleague Radha Raman Shastri, while Dhumal is said to be in favour of Thakur. While Shastri is from Chopal and Mohan is from Sirmaur, the party line is to have a candidate from Shimla parliamentary segment where the saffron party has made inroads.

In the aftermath of women reservation bill getting passed in the Rajya Sabha, name of Bimla Kashyap has been included in the panel and could be the dark horse in the game.

Sources added that consensus could be converging upon Kapahtia for between the favorites among the two camps, the BJP spokesman stood on neutral ground and could pip others for the coveted seat.

With Himachal having a large section serving in the forces and an equally dominant lobby among ex-serviceman, Kanwar had been included in the list to give them due representation.

The state has three seats in the Rajya Sabha that are represented by Shanta Kumar of BJP and Viplove Thakur of congress and the election has come up because of union minister Anand Sharma’s tenure coming to an end on April 2.

In all 16 BJP leaders had staked their claim for the seat, which besides the five shortlisted did include former MP Maheshwar Singh, former MP Kripal Parmar, former minister from Una Praveen Sharma, Ram Swaroop Sharma from Jogindernagar, HN Kashyap, Chandersen Thakur from Kullu, retired bureaucrat PS Negi, Sushil Kumar from Fatehpur in Kangra, Pramod Kumar Verma from Mandi and Lochen Tulku Lama from Kinnaur.

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