Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur is battling multiple challenges. The Chief Minister was already under attack from the opposition over his government’s handling of the Covid crisis, but his two recent decisions—the much-delayed cabinet expansion to fill three vacant berths and his visit to Kangra—have evoked a political debate.
With 3,637 Covid cases and 17 deaths in the state, Thakur’s challenges are multifold, and firming up leadership in the BJP in the presence of two veterans—Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal—is proving to be a tough task for him. The 55-year-old Chief Minister’s actions are under scrutiny.
“What is such a big hurry to undertake tours when there has been a sudden spike in coronavirus cases. The ministers attending public functions are returning as Covid positive and are spreading infection,” Shanta Kumar said on Thakur’s Kangra visit.
But Chief Minister's Kangra visit was apparently necessitated after discord within the party. However, the opposition alleged he had flouted social distancing norms on his visit. Ahead of the cabinet expansion, the district witnessed a political storm. Former minister Ramesh Dhawala, a sitting MLA from Jawalamukhi, launched an attack against party's organising secretary Pawan Rana, accusing him of interfering in his affairs and exceeding boundaries of his organisational job. Dhawala had gone to the extent of asking the party to divest Rana of his party charge. Most MLAs from Kangra, who included Rakesh Pathania, a young Rajput leader, now inducted in the cabinet, came to the rescue of Rana. But Dhawala, too, refused to budge. The crisis would about to spilled over if it were not for the Chief Minister inviting Dhawale and pacifying his heated tempers.
During Kangra tour, Dhawala and Rana shared the stage with Thakur after backroom parleys. Now, having inducted Pathania, not Dhawla, an OBC leader from Kangra, Thakur 's ship is still not out from turbulent waters. Some MLAs, including seniors and a sitting Deputy Speaker, are sulking for being denied cabinet berths.