Unable to find a formidable candidate for the Sujanpur assembly by-elections, the Congress has finally chosen Anita Rana, wife of party candidate for Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat Rajinder Rana.
After recent sudden political developments, with former Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Urmil Thakur joining the Congress and her brother-in-law Narender Thakur returning to the BJP fold, the ruling party had forwarded a fresh panel of candidates to its central leadership.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh had endorsed Anita’s candidature when the first panel of candidates was sent to the party leadership for its consideration 11 days ago.
Like for the Lok Sabha elections, the central leadership once again put the stamp on the CM’s choice, asking him to ensure Anita’s victory.
Sources said Anita’s name was also considered as it was believed that denying ticket to her would undermine the prospects of her husband.
Differences of opinion between the CM and state Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu had resulted in a delay in announcement of the ticket for the Sujanpur seat.
Sukhu had been opposing Anita’s candidature, saying that she did not have an “organisational” background and had joined the party recently with her husband, who had quit the Vidhan Sabha to contest against the BJP’s Anurag Thakur. Sukhu had demanded that preference be given to a person from the party.
The state unit of the Congress had recommended the names of former legislator Anita Verma, party’s district president Naresh Thakur and Anita Rana.
However, the party did not consider Verma’s name as she had lost two consecutive elections, the second one by more than 10,000 votes.
Urmil Thakur was also not considered for the seat, as she had recently joined the Congress after quitting the BJP as the opposition party had denied her ticket, and she had lost the previous assembly elections by a large margin and stood third in the tally.
Naresh Thakur was also not considered due to lack of considerable voter base and not having contested the assembly or parliament elections before.
Anita Rana is expected to file her nomination papers at 11am on Saturday. Congress leaders, including the state Youth Congress president Vikramaditya Singh will remain present when she files her nomination.