In the wake of fast changing political dimensions, the Congress leadership is still weighing its options on candidate for the Sujanpur assembly by-election, and has sought a fresh list of probables.
The political situation in Sujanpur took a dramatic turn after Congress leader and Hamirpur campaign in-charge Narender Thakur returned to the Bharatiya Janata Party, and his sister-in-law and twotime BJP legislator Urmil Thakur on Sunday joined the Congress after being denied ticket from Sujanpur.
Sources have told HT that the party leadership has asked Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu to draw a fresh panel of names, keeping in mind the winning ability of the probable candidates.
The party had earlier constituted a three-member committee headed by irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes and comprising health minister Kaul Singh Thakur and transport minister GS Bali, to shortlist a panel from among 13 aspirants.
The committee had framed two separate panels and submitted its report to the party president. In the first panel it had recommended the names of Anita Rana, wife of Cong ress nominee for Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat Rajinder Rana; district Congress committee president Naresh Thakur; and secretary Arun Thakur.
In other panel it had mentioned the names of former legislator Anita Verma and former Bamson legisla - tor Kuldeep Pathania. Both Patnania and Verma had lost twice in the assembly elections.
Earlier, chief minister Virbhadra Singh had endorsed the name of Anita Rana for the ticket.
However, there is a growing feeling amongst the Congress leaders that giving the ticket to Rana’s could send a negative signal, since he was earlier closely associated with former chief minister and veteran BJP l eader Prem Kumar Dhumal.
The committee had also mentioned that Ver ma had lost to Rana in the 2012 assembly elections by more than 10,000 votes, but according to the new political development, she has become a frontrunner for the party ticket.
Besides Verma, the names of Naresh and Urmil are also doing the rounds. Party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu’s name has also been mentioned.
The party leadership’s reluctance to name the candidate for the Sujanpur assembly became more evident on Monday, when Rana filed his nomination papers for the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat, but his wife’s candidature was not declared.
It has been more than 10 days since the state party chief sent a report to the party leadership on the names shortlisted by the panel.
Senior party leaders believe that with Ur mil in the Cong ress camp, Anita Verma could get the support of her voter base and of that of Rajinder, as she stood second in the previous assembly elections, while Ur mil was third.
State Congress general secretary and in-charge of party affairs Rajiv Shukla had on Sunday said the name of the candidate for the Sujanpur seat would be announced by the party “withing a couple of days”.