Race to grab top BJP job on in Haryana

The rat race to grab the top BJP post is on in Haryana. A former minister and two senior Rohtak leaders have emerged as front-runners. State BJP chief Krishan Pal Gurjar will complete his tenure mid-December, and the party high command wants to consolidate its position in the state before the 2014 Assembly elections, which it had announced to contest in alliance with Kuldeep Bishnoi-led Haryana Janhit Congress.

Gurjar, who will complete his tenure this month, seems to be on his way out and the party has already sounded the state unit to reach a consensus. The RSS also has its leaders vying for the top post. According to party leaders, senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari, while they were in Haryana, last week, tried to ascertain the mood and claims of the leaders.

Ironically, among the three top most contenders for the post, two senior leaders have repeatedly lost the elections and another has never contested an election. Hence, there is a slender attempt to convince the party high command to give another term to Gurjar, who had won the last two Assembly polls, till the next polls.

The party managed to win four seats in the last Assembly poll under his leadership. Gurjar had been opposing the alliance with the Chautalas, whereas the leader of BJP Legislature Party in Assembly, Anil Vij, who is also a contender for the post of state unit chief, is considered to have a soft corner for the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) led by former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala. Vij has to bear the jibes of the ruling Congress in the House for his soft stand on the Chautalas against his party's strict refusal to reach an electoral alliance with the Chautalas.

However, former minister Ram Bilas Sharma, who has been defeated in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections since 2001, has been considered a strong contender. Sharma, who had twice been minister in the state, had been losing the Assembly and even Lok Sabha polls since he dumped former Chief Minister Bansi Lal to join hands with the Chautalas in 1990. The BJP once pitched him against Kuldeep Bishnoi (then Congress), Ajay Singh Chautala (INLD) and Surender Singh (Haryana Vikas Party of Bansi Lal) in Bhiwani where he lost his deposit and finished third.

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