HAMIRPUR, Nov 7:
Obliged for having been declared as party’s Chief Ministerial candidate, senior BJP leader P K Dhumal in the run-up to the November 9 polls often goes ‘nostalgic’ about his relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi these days.
Journalists and visitors to his Samirpur private residence near here are often told: “When you got, you will find a photograph of me and Mr Narendra Modi. It’s a photograph of 24th March 1998….when I took oath as the Chief Minister.
Modiji was in-charge of Himachal Pradesh. We embraced each other. Both of us were emotional. There were two garlands but in the photograph it appears it is only one garland….we hugged each other so tight”.
Mr Dhumal, 73, may be “lucky” in the Narendra Modi’s scheme of things to become nominee BJP’s Chief Ministerial face – as unofficially – Prime Minister discards people above 75.
Most leaders around 75 of years in age in BJP are either sidelined or made members of the virtually defunct – Marg Darshak Mandal (the advisory board). The panel – comprising leaders like L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Rajnath Singh – has not met even for customary purpose ever since it was created in 2014 – after Amit Shah took over as BJP’s national president.
The ailing Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Modi and Mr Shah himself as party chief are also members of the panel.
Mr Dhumal knows the hard realities of politics – and he also knows the hard task master in Mr Modi. Therefore to a question on age bar of 75, two-time Chief Minister Dhumal is rather diplomatic: “I will cross the bridge when I reach it”.
So what’s happening in Himachal Pradesh BJP – even after party’s “expected victory” in the ensuing polls? Will Mr Dhumal only be at the helm of affairs for next two years? Will he pass on the baton to son and lawmaker Anurag Thakur?
Or will J P Nadda, the dark horse in Himachal Pradesh politics, able to make it to the top spot? Most of these questions are expected, but answers lie only in the womb of time – as they put it. Both father-son (Dhumal-Anurag Thakur duo) – as of now – are banking on their performance record and the “good chemistry between Dhumal and Modi”.
The Hamirpur MP, Mr Thakur is trying hard these days to give out a message that age is not a major issue when it comes to performance. “I performed as a 25-year old in Himachal Cricket Board, Dhumalji was known as a “Sadak walla Mukhya Mantri (A Chief Minister who makes roads),” Mr Thakur says.
“Youth or old……it all depends on which situation you have to deliver. Now, look at Himachal Pradesh, we have law and order situation. The state has a debt of over Rs 50,000 crore, now who can take out the state from such a situation.
Dhumalji has the experience and in this Himachal state only, during his period, the state kept on winning awards for developments,” he notes.
Mr Dhumal does not mince words when it comes to talking about Mr Modi and their relationship. “Modiji has been always a guide, philosopher and a friend”.
The veteran politician also waxes eloquently highlighting some inside political machinations very well. “Great thing about Modiji is that he is very objective…..He will call spade a spade,” he told UNI. Political observers in Hamirpur and including several BJP workers here say — there is lot of political message in Mr Dhumal’s “well guarded words”. Is he referring to two foremost rivals within the BJP — the veteran Shanta Kumar and Union Health Minister J P Nadda?
There are other theories about BJP’s intra-party fighting and one-upmanship. In Hamirpur, some BJP workers said, “Some of the hype about J P Nadda is actually a creation of Delhi media and some leaders know the art of doing so”.
Another refrain is Shanta Kumar is not much interested this time to sabotage party’s performance in his citadel – Kangra district. Sources also said both Mr Shanta Kumar and Mr Dhumal had made up after their problems as BJP chief Amit Shah himself intervened to settle the matter. (PTI)