Shimla, Dec 22: The supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prem Kumar Dhumal protested and raised slogans outside the venue of Core Committee meeting in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Notably, the BJP observers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar arrived in Shimla on Thursday to meet the newly elected party MLAs to elicit their views and arrive at consensus on a new chief minister.

On the other hand, a group of BJP supporters raised slogans in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside venue of the Core Committee meeting, saying, “CM should be chosen from the elected MLAs, there shouldn’t be any lobbying.”

A meeting of BJP Legislature party has been convened for interaction of central observers along with incharge for party affairs Mangal Pandey with party MLAs and a meeting of core committee is also scheduled later in the evening, the BJP sources said.

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 Jairam Thakur, five-time MLA from Seraj in Mandi district, are being seen as front-runners for the chief minister’s post.

The central observes would also hold meeting with members of core committee which included Dhumal, state party chief Satpal Singh Satti, all five MPs from the state and organisation secretary, Pawan Rana.

The central members are also likely to meet the MLAs individually to elicit their views and the leader would be elected by consensus, the party sources said.

The BJP has 44 members in the 68-member Assembly.

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.

But several other leaders including the party veteran and Lok Sabha member from Kangra opposed the move and said that party has clear majority and there are several leaders capable of leading the party and electing a defeated leader would send wrong signals.

(Inputs from PTI)