As Himachal Pradesh awaits its new chief minister, BJP central observers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar are likely to arrive here today and meet newly-elected party MLAs. In-charge of party affairs in the state, Mangal Pandey, will also be arriving today, said state BJP vice- president Ganesh Dutt. The shock defeat of the BJP's chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal from Sujanpur has opened up the race for the top post in Himachal Pradesh. Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda and five-time MLA Jairam Thakur were being seen as front-runners for the chief minister's post. Some other senior BJP lawmakers in the state, including Mohinder Singh, who won for the seventh time, five-term MLA Rajiv Bindal, former state BJP chief Suresh Bharadwaj, and Krishan Kapoor, both elected for a fourth term, could also be considered, party sources said. The BJP has 44 members in the 68-member Assembly. When contacted, several BJP MLAs said they had no official intimation about today's meeting but added that most of them already reached Shimla. The central observers would elicit the view of the members and submit a report to the party top brass, Dutt said. Meanwhile, clamour for making Dhumal the chief minister was gaining momentum and three BJP MLAs reported to have offered to vacate their seats for him. Dhumal was still in Samirpur and many party leaders visited him today. The Congress managed to bag only 21 seats in the 68- member assembly. The BJP won the polls by sweeping 44 seats.
The CPI(M) bagged one seat while two seats were won by Independent candidates. Assembly polls in the state were held on November 9 and the results were announced on December 18.