Union Health Minister JP Nadda and senior BJP leader Jai Ram Thakur are in the race for Himachal Chief Minister.
Should the BJP want to stick with Mr Dhumal, it has an offer from a three-time lawmaker. Virender Kumar, elected again from the Kutlehar constituency, has offered to vacate his seat for Mr Dhumal, say sources.
But many believe the 73-year-old Mr Dhumal -- only two years away from the BJP's so-called retirement age -- has had his chance. His choice was to help the party gain the support of the upper castes -- Brahmins and Rajputs -- but unexpectedly for the party, he lost.
Mr Nadda, 57, who has been General Secretary of the party and is seen as a capable troubleshooter, had always been in the race for Himachal Chief Minister. A three-time Himachal lawmaker, he was a minister in the state in the past.
His competition Jai Ram Thakur, 52, a five-time lawmaker, is the party's face from Mandi. Soon after Mr Dhumal conceded defeat yesterday, Jai Ram Thakur took a flight to Shimla.
Mr Dhumal, in a vote count that went on till past midnight, lost to his Congress opponent Rajendra Singh Rana in Sujanpur.
By announcing Mr Dhumal as its presumptive chief minister, the BJP broke from its strategy of projecting only Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek votes.
At the age of 73 years, Mr Dhumal is a decade younger than Congress's Virbhadra Singh, a six-term Chief Minister who lost power yesterday. Since 1998, the two have taken turns at the Chief Minister's post.
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