Candidate election becomes cliffhanger for BJP, Congress in anticipation of deserters

With little more than a month until the Himachal Pradesh elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress appear to be in a dilemma over finalizing the candidates as each party waits for the other party to come up with its final list.

In the battle for high stakes, both parties fear that many leaders will back down if nominations are refused. Both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress are cautious about finalizing the names, causing a delay in finalizing tickets.

There is strong excitement that the BJP is considering single out new faces, thereby denying tickets to some ministers and lawmakers to bridge any anti-incumbency. This could trigger an exodus of disgruntled leaders from the BJP, according to the opposition. “Some of them have a good influence on the electorate. If the BJP ignores them, what’s the harm in bringing them on board?” said a senior congressional leader.

Congressional high command has reportedly declassified a list of 45 for the assembly’s 68 constituencies, but has not yet made it official. In the remaining of the nearly 20 seats, the party faces “pull and pressure” from various inside lobbies. Congress is also waiting for the BJP to blink first and sense the scale of the rebellion when explaining the list. “We can bet on the angry BJP leaders being denied tickets,” said one leader.

Party insiders say the high command is keeping an eye on segments, particularly in the Kangra region, where it feels there is simmering discontent among some senior BJP leaders who could be denied nominations. Congress plans to pursue a similar policy in some other segments where it lacks strong leaders and could bet on disgruntled BJP leaders.

A decision on ticketing some of these seats was still pending.

The BJP has yet to announce its list of candidates. Although some senior congressional leaders have recently switched to the Saffron party, there is hope that more such rebels will come once the list is complete. “We may not bring these disgruntled leaders on board, but putting them up as independents can drastically cut congressional votes,” said a senior party leader.

But the BJP also appears to be facing a major problem with disgruntled congressional leaders who recently crossed over. There is uneasiness in the party ranks that these leaders could be bought tickets at the expense of vintage cars in the BJP. “The ticket deal will be difficult. The strategy is certainly to wait and look out for us as well,” admitted the leader.

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