‘Congress MLAs have opened channels of talks with BJP and have offered their support in case the party falls short of the majority mark’.

 

NEW DELHI: The BJP is likely to sneak through in Himachal Pradesh in a closely contested fight, multiple internal surveys of the party have stated. In the 68-member Assembly, where the magic number is 35, the party, as per these surveys which were done by the party through different quarters, is going to win 39 to 41 seats. The party had won 44 seats in the 2017 elections, with Congress winning on 21 and the rest being divided between two independents and a lone Left candidate.
Significantly, the chances of Jai Ram Thakur, who was the Chief Minister in the last government, being replaced with a “very senior” central leader if the party is able to win, is being discussed very seriously by the party leadership. The name of the person who will replace Thakur, party sources said, will come as a “big surprise”. Himachal is the home state of current national president Jagat Prakash Nadda whose three-year tenure ends in January next year.
According to two central BJP functionaries, with the chances of Congress being unable to secure the mandate, prospective Congress MLAs, too, have opened channels of talks with the BJP and have offered their support in case the party falls short of the majority mark. This support, The Sunday Guardian has learnt, has been offered by these MLAs without any condition. If the BJP is able to come back to power, it will change, what party leaders have called the almost three-decade-old trend of voters not repeating the party in power.
“We will not be surprised if this happens. You see this happened in Uttar Pradesh, it happened in Uttarakhand and it happened in Goa. All these long-standing trends are gradually being made redundant. Earlier, journalists and political experts would say that massive polling means the party in power was going to lose, but this is clearly not happening since 2014 as far as BJP is concerned,” a central back-room functionary who was in Himachal for 40 days and has worked in many recent elections told The Sunday Guardian.
According to another functionary, due to the presence of two authoritative voices at the top level (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah), the internal clashes between influential leaders who have a stake in the state, was largely resolved without much damage being caused to the party. “Both Modi and Shah are respected by every leader and hence if even after an open discussion a consensus was not reached, it was left on them to decide the best course, which ultimately is going to benefit the party electorally,” he said.