With little more than a month left for the Himachal Pradesh polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress seem to be in a quandary over finalisation of candidates with both parties waiting for each other to come out with their final list.
With the high-stakes battle, both the parties fear crossover of many leaders if denied nominations. Both the ruling BJP and opposition Congress are treading cautiously to firm up on the names, resulting in a delay in finalisation of tickets.
There is a strong buzz that the BJP is contemplating giving emphasis to new faces and thereby denying tickets to some ministers and legislators to tide over any anti-incumbency. This, according to the opposition, could spark an exodus of disgruntled leaders from the BJP. “Some of them have good influence among the electorate. If the BJP chooses to ignore them, what is the harm in bringing them on board?” said a senior Congress leader.
The Congress high command has reportedly cleared a list of 45 for the 68 assembly constituencies but hasn’t made it official. On the rest of the nearly 20 seats, the party is facing “pulls and pressures” from different lobbies within. The Congress is also waiting for the BJP to blink first on declaring the list and sense the extent of rebellion. “We can gamble on the disgruntled BJP leaders who are denied tickets,” said a leader.
Party insiders say the high command was keeping a watch on segments, especially the ones in Kangra region where it feels that there is simmering discontentment among some senior BJP leaders, who could be denied nominations. The Congress is planning to adopt a similar policy in some other segments too, where it does not have strong leaders and could bet on disgruntled leaders from the BJP.
The decision on ticket finalisation for some of these seats has been kept pending.
The BJP too is yet to announce its list of candidates. Though a few senior leaders from the Congress have switched over to the saffron party recently, it is hopeful of some more such rebels coming over once the list is out. “We may not get these disgruntled leaders on board but by pitching them as independents, the votes of Congress can be cut drastically,” revealed a senior party leader.
But the BJP also seems to be facing a problem of plenty as far as disgruntled Congress leaders crossing over recently is concerned. There is unease within the party ranks that these leaders could be given tickets at the cost of old-timers in the BJP. “The ticket finalisation is going to be tricky. The strategy surely is to wait and watch for us as well,” admitted the leader.
With inputs from News18