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Himachal » Politics

Posted at: Aug 8, 2016, 12:30 AM; last updated: Aug 8, 2016, 12:37 AM (IST)

Maheshwar set to join BJP

HLP supremo likely to make formal announcement on August 14
Maheshwar set to join BJP
“I have received the offer from the BJP which is being seriously considered and things are about to be finalised.” Maheshwar Singh, HLP chief

Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 7

Suspense over Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) chief Maheshwar Singh joining the BJP is over. The HLP supremo is expected to formally announce his decision at a public function at Kullu on August 14.

Sources in the BJP and some senior HLP leaders confided that Maheshwar Singh is all set to join the BJP. A sizeable section in BJP, including party veteran and former Chief Minister Shanta Kumar, strongly favoured return of Maheshwar Singh. However, there were sharp differences in the HLP on the issue.

“It is not clear whether the Himachal Lokhit Party would merge with the BJP or a section of the party would follow suit as the Solan, Bilaspur and Kangra units of the party are not favorably inclined to return to the BJP” said a senior HLP leader.

“We had quit the BJP on the issue of corruption and decided that the party would work to emerge as potential third force and adopt the policy of equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP”, said a senior HLP leader without making any categorical statement about “joining or not joining the BJP”.

The HLP leaders had discussed the matter last month and a section of the party favoured joining the BJP while the other section favoured AAP. Due to sharp differences in the party, the party chief was authorised to take the final call.

When contacted, Maheshwar Singh said “I have received the offer from the BJP which is being seriously considered and things are about to be finalised”. However, he did not give the specific date for “reunion” with the parent party.

The BJP gearing up for the November 2017 Assembly elections in the state is keen that all those who had left the party in the past be brought back into the party fold to ensure that there was no division of pro-BJP votes.

A senior BJP leader also confirmed that Maheshwar Singh would join the party on August 14 but refused to be quoted.

The HLP was formed by BJP dissidents in February 2012 ahead of the Assembly elections to thwart BJP’s “mission repeat”. Maheshwar Singh was the only leader to be elected to the state Assembly from Kullu but the HLP candidate played spoilsport and was instrumental in defeat of the BJP in about a dozen seats.

A section of HLP leaders is apprehensive about their rehabilitation in the party as most of the leaders who had rejoin the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 have not been suitably accommodated and are sulking.

Maheshwar Singh, a three-time MLA, three-time Lok Sabha member and former Rajya Sabha member has also been state BJP chief. He was elected to Himachal Vidhan sabha in 1977, 1982 and 2012, won the Lok Sabha elections in 1989, 1998 and 1999 and also was Rajya Sabha member from 1992-1998.

He wields considerable influence in Kullu and Mandi districts and his return to the BJP would be a shot in the arm for the party. He is also the “Chharibardar” (chief Kardar) of Raghunathji, presiding deity of Kullu valley and about 300 local deities come to Kullu during the Dussehra festival to pay “obeisance” and all religious activities revolve around Maheshwar Singh.

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