Himachal BJP rallies around new star Nadda

News, Views

imageShimla: Despite a gloomy and rainy monsoon day in Shimla I was surprised to see huge crowds gathered to welcome J P Nadda the union health minister here today.

Well before Nadda had entered Shimla almost all top state BJP leaders could be seen waiting on the lush green lawns of Peterhof hotel.

Speaking to many party workers on the unusual scenes here. Was this really a generational shift in the Himachal unit of the BJP.Had they sensed the wind was blowing in a different direction in the hill state I wondered!

At the entrance were the musical bands including a pahari band playing in welcome. And when Nadda stepped out of his car each leader rushed to welcome him, many with flowers in their hands.

Beaming and smiling Nadda walked in and immediately got down to business holding a high level meeting with senior state government officials on 60 national highways for a state known for its bad roads, the lifeline of the hill state.

After the meeting he held a press conference and said, “Time has come for the Himachal government to keep pace with the Centre.”

“The Centre has sanctioned over Rs 13,000 crore for these 60 roads. The state government needs to speed up things so that we can prepare DPRs and start work,” Nadda said.

“There is a huge jump in devolution of funds by the Centre to the state. This has never happened before,” he claimed.

When the press tried to push him on his claim for leading the upcoming elections in the state late next year he smiled and avoided giving any direct answers.

“Right now my job is to focus on the development of Himachal and provide all the help we can from Delhi.”

By remaining silent on who will lead the BJP in the next polls Nadda showed he is a calm and experienced politician. He did not dismiss these claims.By remaining silent he amply made it clear today that he was claiming this job.

In the coming months we will know if Nadda is able to further strengthen his position within the party or throw it away. Can he emerge as a tall leader with the backing of the high command and be projected as the chief ministerial candidate!

There is no doubt that recent events have been a setback for the leader of the opposition P K Dhumal. Age is certainly not on the side of the two time chief minister.

Then there is family politics in the Dhumal family which is against him. Many within the BJP are bitter about this and say this is Congress style family politics and needs to be stopped.

Prime Minister Modi is certainly not comfortable with the Congress style family politics as BJP is essentially a cadre based party.

But Dhumal may not let go off power easily. He may tell the high command that without him the party cannot win the Vidhan Sabha elections and take on the Virbhadra Singh led Congress.

But this looks unlikely and he may worry for the future of his MP son Anurag Thakur and could settle for a deal.

Chances are that Dhumal may meekly give in to the high common and settle for the quiet job of a governor, who knows time will tell!