Jaitley, Sitharaman to Select Chief Ministers for Guj, Himachal

The BJP fought off a strong challenge from the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress to win the Gujarat Assembly polls.

2 min read
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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP’s general secretary Saroj Pandey will be the party’s observers for the selection of the chief minister of Gujarat.

The decision to appoint Jaitley and Pandey was taken at the BJP's parliamentary board meeting in New Delhi, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and other senior leaders, Union Minister JP Nadda told reporters.

During poll campaigning, Shah had said incumbent Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was the party’s face in the state Assembly elections.

Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar will be the party’s observers for Himachal Pradesh.

The BJP fought off a strong challenge from the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress to win the Gujarat Assembly polls for the sixth straight time on Monday, 18 December, and also wrested power from the Grand Old Party in Himachal Pradesh with a two-thirds majority.

The twin victories tightened the BJP’s grip over the country’s politics that saw Congress lose one more state. General elections are only 18 months away.

Still, the euphoria in the BJP camp was tempered by the lower-than-expected margin of victory in Gujarat – it took 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, down from 115 it won in 2012. Meanwhile in Himachal Pradesh, the saffron party won 44 seats in the 68-member Assembly, while the Congress bagged 21 seats.

Modi hailed the party's victory in Gujarat as “unprecedented”, noting that retaining office was once considered a huge achievement in the country. He accused the Congress of promoting casteism in the elections, and said there were "many forces at work" beside the Opposition party to bring the BJP down.

“In their hunger for power, some people tried to sow the seeds of casteism in the last few months for the elections. The people rejected it,” he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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