Riding high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma and striving hard to regain power, the party has not projected any chief ministerial face. The BJP has been on a publicity overdrive in Himachal for a year, launching a series of drives to bolster its campaign in the hill state. Scores of central leaders, including Modi and party chief Amit Shah, are taking keen interest in the campaign and have managed to keep factionalism at bay. The party has a strong base in lower Himachal.
In 1998, Prem Kumar Dhumal formed the government with the help of Sukh Ram’s Himachal Vikas Congress and later made inroads in Congress strongholds, including the apple-growing belt. Dhumal formed the government in 2008 but infighting led to defeat in 2012. This time, the party has decided not to project a CM candidate and focusing on winning. It has been wooing Scheduled Castes. The RSS cadres in Himachal have already fanned out to bolster the BJP campaign