Ahead of HP poll results, rebels flock together to seek bargaining power

Sensing a neck-and-neck contest between Himachal Pradesh’s ruling BJP and the Congress after the Assembly election results are declared on December  20, rebels who had broken free from the mainstream parties are drifting towards a united front.

But they are still silent on which party they might support.

“We are not averse to forming a group (of rebels) that will help bargaining collectively with any political party once the election results are out,” said legislator Rakesh Pathania, who contested as an independent from Nurpur in Kangra district.

BJP rebels, mainly from Kangra, the state’s largest district, have started holding parleys to project a united face once the results are out.

A meeting between Pathania and the BJP’s suspended MP Rajan Sushant — once known political adversaries — was held recently to chalk out a strategy to bring all the like-minded rebels together. Sushant has fielded his wife Sudha Sushant from Fatehpur as an independent.

This seat was once represented by Sushant himself. Both Pathania and Sushant are holding discussions separately on election prospects with other rebels.

A senior BJP leader said party rebels have started uniting after chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal indicated that the doors of the party were open for rebels.

After the party’s crucial meeting on poll prospects held in Shimla on Monday, Dhumal said the party would seek the support of (winning) rebels for the formation of the government if required.

“We will get a two-third majority. If there is any requirement, we will seek the support mainly from the rebels who left the party ahead of the polls,” he said.

Former minister Roop Singh said the BJP, which expelled him from the party, can’t claim its right on him. The Congress, too, is not lagging behind in getting numbers if the party suffers any setback.

Leaders said party chief Virbhadra Singh has already opened channels of communication with party prominent rebels, including Dharamvir Dhami (Manali) and Vijay Jyoti Sen (Kasumpti).

Virbhadra is keen on getting support, tell sources, from the Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), a political outfit headed by BJP rebel Maheshwar Singh.

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