After AAP, CPI-M declares list of 11 candidates for HP assembly polls

Published on Sep 22, 2022 12:11 AM IST

The candidates were picked in the party’s state secretariat meeting held late on Tuesday and will be sent to the CPI-M politburo for final approval, said Onkar Shad, the state secretary of CPI-M Himachal Pradesh

CPI-M MLA Rakesh Singha will again contest from the Theog assembly segment. (HT Photo)
CPI-M MLA Rakesh Singha will again contest from the Theog assembly segment. (HT Photo)
ByGaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur

After the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which took the lead by announcing the first list of four candidates for Himachal Pradesh, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has declared candidates for eleven constituencies in Shimla, Mandi, Kullu, Sirmaur, Hamirpur and Chamba districts.

The candidates were picked in the party’s state secretariat meeting held late on Tuesday and will be sent to the CPI-M politburo for final approval, said Onkar Shad, the state secretary of CPI-M Himachal Pradesh.

“In the upcoming elections, the party intends to contest on 17 assembly seats where we have a considerable vote base,” said Shad. The rest of the candidates will be declared on September 26.

The CPI-M has a considerable support base in some pockets of Himachal. However, the party has achieved little success in electoral politics.

Party leader and former Shimla mayor Sanjay Chauhan said that the main objective of the CPI-M was to defeat BJP.

“Where we are not fighting elections, the party will support the candidates of like-minded and secular parties,” he said.

Singha from Theog

Rakesh Singha, the face of left forces in Himachal Pradesh, will again contest from the Theog assembly segment, the seat he won in the 2017 elections defeating BJP’s Rakesh Verma and ensuring CPI-M entry into the state assembly after a gap of 24 years.

Singha, known for his fiery speeches and relentless protests he has led for farmers, labourers and hotel workers, started as a student leader associated with the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and was the first elected president of the HPU Students Union in 1980-81.

He was a councillor in the Shimla Municipal Corporation before being elected to the state assembly from the Shimla seat in 1983. He, however, was unseated after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction in a murder case dating back to 1978. Singha contested the 2012 election from Theog, remaining in third position garnering over 10,000 votes.

From Seraj, the constituency of chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, the party has fielded a former student leader Mahender Singh Rana.

He had been elected president of Kullu College Students’ Union and also served as the state president of SFI. He also remained a member of Mandi Zila Parishad and is currently the Mandi district president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of CPI-M.

To capitalize on the farmer’s movement in the apple belt, CPI-M has nominated Vishal Shankta from the Jubbal-Kotkhai seat, a stronghold of Congress. Shankta was also a former student leader and remained president of the HPU Students Union. He is also a two-term member of Shimla Zila Parishad.

In Joginderngar, Mandi district, Kushal Bhardwaj will be the party candidate. A former president and general secretary of the HPU Students Union, Bhardwaj is a sitting Zila Parishad Member.

He has unsuccessfully contested elections from the Jogindernagar Vidhan Sabha seat and Mandi Parliamentary elections in the past. From the Hamirpur constituency, the party has reposed faith in state secretariat member Kashmir Singh Thakur.

Among other candidates, the CPI-M has picked Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, a retired Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer and farmers’ leader from Kasumpti in Shimla, Bhupender Singh from Dharampur and Kishori Lal from Karsog in Mandi, Narender Singh from Chamba, Ashish Kumar from Sirmaur and Devki Nand from Anni in Kullu.

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