Congress poll panel meet to finalise HP candidates on April 13 - Hindustan Times
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Congress poll panel meet to finalise HP candidates on April 13

By, Shimla
Apr 13, 2024 05:48 AM IST

The party’s screening committee has shortlisted the candidates for four Lok Sabha seats – Shimla, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra – as well as the six assembly seats – Dharamshala, Gagret, Sujanpur, Lahaul and Spiti, Badsar, and Kutlehar – where by-polls were necessitated after sitting Congress legislators were disqualified under anti-defection law for defying the whip

With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) racing ahead in campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls, all eyes are now set on Congress’ central election committee meeting scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The names of candidates for the by-elections may be announced after the central election committee meeting set to be held under the chairpersonship of the Congress’ national president Mallikarjun Kharge. (HT File)
The names of candidates for the by-elections may be announced after the central election committee meeting set to be held under the chairpersonship of the Congress’ national president Mallikarjun Kharge. (HT File)

The party’s screening committee has shortlisted the candidates for four Lok Sabha seats – Shimla, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra – as well as the six assembly seats – Dharamshala, Gagret, Sujanpur, Lahaul and Spiti, Badsar, and Kutlehar – where by-polls were necessitated after sitting Congress legislators were disqualified under anti-defection law for defying the whip.

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The names of candidates for the by-elections may be announced after the central election committee meeting set to be held under the chairpersonship of the Congress’ national president Mallikarjun Kharge.

Chief minister (CM) Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri have already been projecting former legislator Satpal Singh Raizada as a candidate from Hamirpur against BJP’s Anurag Thakur, who will contest for the fifth consecutive time.

While Kasauli legislator Vinod Sultanpuri is likely to take on BJP’s Suresh Kashyap from Shimla, Mandi may see a high-stakes contest between PWD minister Vikramaditya Singh and the saffron party’s Kangana Ranaut.

“Kangana wanted a young candidate against her. We have already pitted Vikramaditya Singh against Kangana,” deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri said during an election meeting in Una.

In Kangra, the biggest parliamentary seat party, Congress is contemplating on two or three names with a large number of legislators favouring former education minister Asha Kumari.

By-elections in focus

The party has also narrowed down on the names of Vivek Sharma from Kutlehar and former Dharamshala mayor Devendra Jaggi for the assembly by-elections.

There is still a dilemma over Lahaul and Spiti’s seat. Former minister Ram Lal Markanda had recently resigned from the BJP after it gave a ticket to Congress turncoat Ravi Thakur and announced that he could contest on a Congress ticket if asked. The party’s inner circles, however, floated the name of zila parishad member Anuradha Rana. Congress leader Suresh Kardo is also there in the race.

For the Sujanpur seat, the party has three probable candidates to take on Rajendra Rana who is contesting on a BJP ticket. Former party leader Manjeet Dogra and former legislator Rakesh Kalia may also contest against from Badsar and Gagret respectively.

Names of former state president Kuldeep Kumar and Raman Jaswal are doing rounds for Gagret. Gyan Chand and Sanjeev Sharma are the frontrunners for a ticket from Barsar, and Kangra Cooperative Bank President Kuldeep Pathania, Naresh Thakur, and Ravindra Verma from Sujanpur.

“The screening committee has shortlisted the names, and now it is for the central election committee to decide,” party’s organising secretary Rajneesh Kimta said.

The screening committee brainstormed the names received from the Block Congress Committees and survey reports, with party sources saying they would reach a consensus soon.

Sukhu, Agnihotri and state Congress president Pratibha Singh are likely to reach New Delhi to finalise the candidates in consultation with central leaders.

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