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NEW DELHI:  After the BJP emerged victorious in the assembly elections by defeating the Congress in both Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, the party is now mulling decision on chief ministers for these states. As the party’s presumptive state chief for Himachal Pradesh, PK Dhumal lost his seat in the polls, speculations are rife as to who the next chief minister of the state would be. During the Gujarat election campaign, Amit Shah had said that incumbent chief minister Vijay Rupani was the party’s face in the state. The BJP has decided to send two teams headed by Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Sitharaman to Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat as observers.

BJP could opt for a Thakur leader in Himachal Pradesh, say party sources.

Although JP Nadda and five-term MLA Jairam Thakur are being seen as frontrunners for the chief minister’s post on Himachal Pradesh, BJP sources have said that the party could also opt for a Thakur leader, the dominant community in the hill state. Mr Nadda is a Brahmin.

The BJP could also opt for a Patel or Patidar chief minister like outgoing deputy CM Nitin Patel, to assuage the influential community.

Vijay Rupani is considered a stable, caste neutral choice for the party. Mr Rupani is known to have a clean image and is also seen as close to party chief Amit Shah who had said while campaigning that Mr Rupani was the party’s choice for CM.

Vijay Rupani, outgoing Gujarat chief minister is seen as the favourite for the top post, but the BJP’s performance in the assembly elections has thrown open the possibility of the party opting for someone else. As the state BJP waits for the arrival from Delhi of union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who will oversee the selection of the next chief minister, the only consensus is that it is anyone’s guess.

Nadda’s proximity to the party top brass is seen as a big plus for him. However, some party leaders believe that the BJP’s central leadership may finally choose the chief minister from among lawmakers.

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