A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recommended four names for contesting the Sujanpur legislative assembly bypoll, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on Sunday sent a report on the party's probable candidates shortlisted for the byelection, to the party high command.
Anita Rana, the wife of Congress' Hamirpur parliamentary seat nominee Rajinder Rana, is the frontrunner for the Sujanpur assembly segment.
Her name figures at the top of the list sent to the party high command. Besides, All India Mahila Congress chief Anita Verma, Congress' Hamirpur district unit president Naresh Thakur and party's district secretary Arun Thakur have also been named in the list. “I have consulted the chief minister about the candidatures for the Sujanpur seat. He has given his opinion. The party high command will announce the ticket considering the report forwarded to them,” Sukhu told Hindustan Times.
The four names were shortlisted from two separate lists prepared by a three-member committee of the HPCC, headed by irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes, and comprising health minister Kaul Singh Thakur and transport minister GS Bali. To reach the decision, Sukhu had also sought chief minister (CM) Virbhadra Singh's opinion on the two initial lists.
The CM had been openly backing the candidature of Anita Rana. During his campaign in Hamirpur, he said that if the BJP could field a candidate from a particular family, then “what was wrong with the party fielding Anita Rana”.
Sukhu rubbished allegations that the party was not backing its official candidate Rajinder Rana, who quit the assembly to contest against BJP's Anurag Thakur for the Hamirpur parliamentary seat: “There is no question that the party men are not backing Rana. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh himself campaigned in Hamirpur. I too will leave for Hamirpur. Congress will campaign more aggressively in Hamirpur.”
“Anita Rana is now a member of the Congress. She had joined us on the day her husband, Rajinder Rana, enrolled himself,” said Sukhu.
When asked that why did the party prefer Anita Rana, he said that Congress was of the view that as Rajinder Rana had vacated the Sujanpur assembly seat to contest the Lok Sabha election, his wife would be the apt choice.