Satpal Satti appointed new Himachal BJP chief

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Shimla: In a bid to pacify the rebels in its Himachal Pradesh unit, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday appointed a new president for the state.

Satpal Singh Satti, a second-time legislator from Una, has been appointed new state president replacing Khimi Ram, a close confidant of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari has cleared Satti’s name and accepted the resignation of Ram, a senior party leader said here.

Ram, a two-time legislator from Banjar in Kullu district, was unanimously elected president in July 2009 after Jairam Thakur, who headed the state unit, was inducted into the state cabinet. In February 2010, Ram was retained.

Satti, who is chief parliamentary secretary of in the state, has to resign before assuming the new charge. Party sources said a minor cabinet reshuffle is also on the cards this month.

Party insiders said Gadkari had to step in after two camps of state party leaders, Dhumal and former union minister Shanta Kumar, were at loggerheads for quite sometime.

Shanta’s loyalists, comprising two ministers and three legislators, are also upset with Dhumal’s style of working.

Gadkari last week deputed two central leaders — J.P. Nadda, a former Himachal minister, and Shyam Jaju, co-in charge of state’s party affairs — to look into the reasons for dissent among the party cadre and the allegations of corruption against top functionaries in the state.

A new political outfit, Himachal Lokhit Party, formed by BJP rebels this month has also turned into a headache for the ruling party in the state.

Assembly polls will be held in the hill state towards end of this year.