The fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls ended on Thursday; but in Himachal Pradesh, electioneering picked up after 14 candidates filed nomination papers on the penultimate day of the process.
For the Congress, chief minister’s wife, Pratibha Singh (Mandi), and former Lok Sabha member Chander Kumar (Kangra); for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ramswaroop Sharma (Mandi) and Virender Kashyap (Shimla); and for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Rajan Sushant (Kangra) and Kamal Kanta Batra (Hamirpur) were the prominent nominees.
Health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, panchayati raj minister Anil Sharma and senior advocate Ravi Rana Shahin accompanied Pratibha Singh to the office of the returning officer. Congress leaders and cabinet ministers from Mandi district, besides youth Congress president and her son, Vikramaditya Singh, were present.
BJP’s Mandi contestant, Ramswaroop Sharma, filed his papers in the presence of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, former panchayati raj minister and candidate from 2013 by-election Jai Ram Thakur, and former public works department minister Gulab Singh Thakur.
In Kangra ,former MP Chander Kumar of the Congress filed his papers in the presence of Virbhadra Singh, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, power minister Sujan Singh Pathania, and urban development minister Sudhir Sharma. Dalhousie legislator Asha Kumari and former minister Vijay Singh Mankotia were also present.
AAP nominee from Kangra and for mer BJP MP Rajan Sushant also reached the RO’s office in the company of Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) president and Kullu legislator Maheshwar Singh, and Kangra AAP convener Aman Guleria. HLP has given unilateral support to the AAP in the state.
In Hamirpur, AAP’s Kamal Kanta Batra, mother of Kargil martyr Vikram Batra, filed nomination.
In Shimla, BJP’s Virender Kashyap was accompanied by party national vice-president Balbir Punj, Rajya Sabha member Bimla Kashyap, Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj and state party vice-president Chander Mohan Thakur during the filing of nomination.
Earlier, Kashyap led a procession from Naaz Square to the district collector’s office in Shimla. Legislators Rajiv Bindal (Nahan), Suresh Kashyap (Pachhad), Baldev Tomar (Shillai), KL Thakur (Nalagarh), Govind Thakur (Arki), and Rajiv Saijal (Kasauli); party vice-president Narender Bragta, and former legislator Khushi Ram Balnatah were part of the march.
In Shimla, BJP MLA Suresh Kashyap is covering candidate.
Communist Party of India-Marxist ( CPIM) candidate Jagat Ram also filed his papers from Shimla. Sitaram Yechury, member of both the Rajya Sabha and the party Politburo; Shimla mayor Sanjay Chauhan, deputy mayor Tikender Singh Panwar, and state party secretary Rakesh Singha accompanied him.
From Mandi, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Lala Ram and covering candidate Het Singh filed papers. From Kangra, Dhani Ram entered the race as Independent and Baldev Raj Sood joined the contest from Himachal Swabhiman Party.
From Hamirpur, Aashish Kumar and Ami Chand got into the ring as Independents, while Shiv Dutt for the Shiv Sena, Rakesh Kumar for the BSP, and Virender Singh as covering candidate of the BJP, also submitted the papers.