Seven Congress leaders are said have so for applied for the party's ticket from Hamirpur parliamentary seat.
The leaders are: Sunil Sharma, general secretary of Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC); Ram Chand Pathania and Sita Ram Bhardwaj of Hamirpur, Ganesh Dutt Bharwal, the former MLA from Gagret; Des Raj Gautam and RR Rohi from Una, and Ram Lal Thakur, former minister and chairman of Himachal Pradesh Planning Board.
Insiders in the party said the party high command had sought the recommendations of all the block units of the party for the names of the prospective candidates and their recommendations along with the recommendations of the district units of the party would become the base for the selection of the candidates for all the seats.
As for as Hamirpur seat is concerned, the party wants to spring a surprise by fielding a heavyweight as the BJP has been winning the seat for the past 18 years. The BJP has already announced the name of its sitting MP, Anurag Thakur, for the Hamirpur seat. Thakur is the eldest son of former chief minister and senior BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Though there has been no information on who the Congress' candidate would be from Hamirpur, chief minister Virbhadra Singh had, during the Vidhan Sabha's winter session at Tapovan, hinted that Rajendra Rana, an associate member of the Congress, would be the party's choice.
Rana had won the Sujanpur seat of the Hamirpur district as an independent candidate and had defeated Anita Verma of the Congress and Urmila Thakur of the BJP by huge margins. However, it is also being said that top functionaries of the party were in favor of Mukesh Agnihotri, the industries minister from Una district, and Rajesh Dharmani, MLA from Bilaspur district, for the Hamirpur seat.
Contacted, HPCC chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhoo told HT that the “win-ability” would be the main criterion. “We'll field a strong candidate,” he said, “The final announcement will be made by the party high command.”