BJP in bind over Himachal by-election

Shimla: Senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar having voiced concern about the party being turned into a fiefdom for launching sons and relatives, the party is in a bind over picking a candidate for Nalagarh seat where wife of a deceased MLA has staked her claim to the ticket for a by-election to be held.

Nalagarh legislator Hari Naryan Saini, who was a Shanta Kumar loyalist, died on June 24 and his wife Gurnam Kaur after meeting chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Monday has staked her claim for the seat having fallen vacant. The by-election is due later in the year.

Whereas party insiders say that ahead of the general assembly election due in Oct-Nov, 2012 there is a sharp division within about picking a new winnable candidate for the seat, but state BJP president Khimmi Ram, when contacted, said, “the matter has not been discussed at the party forum.”

“By-elections have not been announced yet and the question of fielding a candidate will only come when that happens,” he said.

Saini, who died of cancer, a week before his death against the advice from doctors on June 17 had left the hospital in Chandigarh to make a last visit to home town Rajpura, where he announced the name of Gurnam Kaur, as his candidate choice after him.

“The deep sympathy that Saini’s tragedy has had in the constituency has reduced the candidate choice for the party,” says a party insider, “because him having named a successor has dashed the hopes of many ticket aspirants.”

Ahead of the general assembly election, winning the Nalagarh by-election is crucial for BJP’s election campaign to retain power and handing the party ticket to another worker besides Kaur could mar the chances of the ruling party of winning the seat, he added.

In context of Shanta Kumar reported statement about son’s and relatives taking over the party from Himachal to Karnataka, Khimmi Ram said “only Shanta Kumar could reply to that but the party has not considered any candidate for Nalagarh yet.”

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