The BJP’s infighting in Himachal Pradesh among supporters of Anurag Thakur and JP Nadda appears to have hit the party in the just concluded assembly elections.
The BJP lost all five Assembly seats under Hamirpur Lok Sabha constituency, which is held by Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur, whereas it won all the seats in Bilaspur, the hometown of BJP president JP Nadda.
There has been visible friction between the two leaders and their supporters in the BJP, with the factionalism spilling out into the selection of candidates.
Noted leader from Hamirpur and Anurag Thakur’s father PK Dhumal, who is also a former state chief minister, was not given a party ticket to contest, but it was asserted by the party and him that he had retired from politics.
The tensions between the leaders led to infighting and rebels took to contesting as independents, causing a cut in what could have been probably votes for the BJP. Although only 2 of the 21 rebels won, the others effected profound damage to the party’s prospects.
Rajinder Rana of Congress defeated BJP’s Ranjit Singh in Sujanpur seat, once occupied by Dhumal. The other Congress candidates to win in Hamirpur are Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu in Nadaun, Inder Dutt Lakhnapal in Barsar and Suresh Kumar in Bhoranj. Sukku is among the shortlisted few in Congress to become the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.
Independent candidate Ashish Sharma won the Hamirpur assembly constituency.
In Bilaspur, BJP candidates Randhir Sharma, JR Katwal and Trilok Jamwal won the three Assembly seats Naina Devi, Jhandutta and Bilaspur respectively.
BJP lost power to Congress, which won 40 seats while the former got 25 in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. Soon after the results were out, Anurag Thakur came under fire from BJP supporters for the party’s infighting.
On the other hand, there was also another side to the factionalism, with supporters of outgoing chief minister Jairam Thakur opening another front, all of which hurt the BJP badly.