Virbhadra Singh is leading the Congress charge to dethrone the BJP in Himachal Pradesh, but the five-time former chief minister is finding it difficult to get his party to accept all his choices for tickets to contest the November 4 polls.
Though the Congress has not officially announced its list of candidates, of the 62 finalised so far, only 26 are considered hardcore Singh loyalists.
What’s more, Singh has failed to ensure his wife Pratibha Singh’s candidature from Kasumpti constituency.
The Congress reluctance to give a free hand to Singh, the state party chief, in ticket allotment is seen to be the fallout of factionalism. Two meetings of the party’s state election committee have remained deadlocked.
According to sources privy to the developments, one faction backs Singh, while the other has the support of Union commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma.
Incidentally, not many Sharma loyalists have made it to the list of finalised candidates, many of whom are fence-sitters.
“The Congress top leadership in Delhi stepped in to end the internal jostling for tickets,” said a party leader who did not want to be named. The party had received 735 applications for the 68 assembly seats.
Congress is yet to finalise candidates for six seats. Party leaders are yet to hit the campaign trail even though BJP has been quick off the blocks, declaring its first list of candidates on September 28, four days before the election commission announced the polls.