Amid intense lobbying for the four Lok Sabha seats and one Rajya Sabha seat in the state, the entire political scene of Himachal Pradesh has shifted to New Delhi, at least for a while.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh, his cabinet ministers and loyalists and detractors are camping in the national capital, with the CM flying to New Delhi on Friday to attend the All India Congress Committee's session. Even in the opposition Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), senior leaders have already reached the national capital. Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, former union minister Shanta Kumar, state party chief Satpal Singh Satti and Lok Sabha member Virender Kashyap were in the national capital on Friday to attend the party's national executive meeting.
Virbhadra is expected to call on central Congress leaders to discuss the scores of issues concerning his government and party. The CM is likely apprise the party high command of the spate of allegations being levelled against him and his family members by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), particularly by former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and his sons, Anurag Thakur and Arun Singh. He may also discuss the names of probable candidates for the five parliamentary seats as he would be vying for tickets for his loyalists, especially since the HPCC's election committee would meet on January 21 to shortlist candidates for the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seats.
As for the BJP's national executive meeting, BJP national general secretary JP Nadda, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) national president Anurag Thakur and former social justice minister Sarveen Chaudhary also attended the meeting . Other office-bearers of the party have also reached Delhi to participate in the BJP's national council meeting on Saturay.
In the Congress, 20 persons have so far applied for tickets from the four Lok Sabha seats of Mandi, Shimla, Hamirpur and Kangra. The prominent ticket aspirants for Shimla are: former Lok Sabha member's son Vinod Sultanpuri, Rohru legislator Mohan Lal and former speaker Gangu Ram.
Sultanpuri is likely to be the obvious choice of state party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and leaders opposed to Virbhadra.
In BJP bastion Hamirpur, the Congress will have to walk a tightrope. Virbhadra Singh is backing the candidature of independent Rajinder Rana, while names of Congress general secretary Sunil Bittu, former minister Ram Lal Thakur and other former legislators are also doing rounds.
Industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri is considered the strongest amongst all contenders.
Virbhadra Singh's wife and Lok Sabha member Pratibha Singh is the lone contender from Mandi. In Kangra, transport minister GS Bali has been lobbying intensely to secure a ticket for his son, Raghubir Singh, while the CM is backing former
Lok Sabha member Chander Kumar.
With less than a week left for nominations , lobbying has got more intense for the lone Rajya Sabha seat that would be contested for on February 7. Names of HPCC chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, former Rajya Sabha member Viplove Thakur, Himachal Pradesh State Co-operative Bank chairman Harsh Mahajan and former legislator Harshvardhan Chauhan are doing the rounds.
Secretariat wears deserted look
With the chief minister and his cabinet in New Delhi, the Himachal Pradesh secretariat wore a deserted look on Friday. Only chief parliamentary secretary Nand Lal attended office. The main building, Ellerslie, that houses the office of the chief minister and his cabinet hardly had any vistor on Friday. Even a majority of principal secreteriaes were either on leave or official tour.