Himachal elections: Congress screening committee to meet to shortlist candidates
Pradesh election committee that met in Delhi recently cleared the names of 20 MLAs, three AICC secretaries Sudhir Sharma, Rakesh Kalia and Rajesh Dharmani besides two former state unit chiefs Kaul Singh Thakur and Kuldeep Kumar
The three-member Congress screening committee, headed by former Union minister Deepa Dasmunsi, will meet in New Delhi soon to shortlist candidates for the Vidhan Sabha elections due in November.
Though Dasmunsi, who has been in charge of organisational elections in Himachal Pradesh, has gathered feedback on aspirants, the two other members, namely party national secretary and former Madhya Pradesh forest minister Umang and AICC secretary from Rajasthan Dheeraj Gurjar, also reached out to workers and aspiring candidates.
State Congress president Pratibha Singh, leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and the party’s campaign committee head Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu will be present at the meeting.
Meeting to be held on September 19
The All-India Congress Committee in-charge of Himachal affairs, Rajeev Shukla, and his deputies Sanjay Dutt and Tejinder Pal Singh Bittu are expected to attend the meeting that has been postponed to September 19. It was initially to be held on September 15 but was put off in view of engagements of senior party leaders.
The pradesh election committee (PEC) that met in Delhi recently has already cleared the names of the 20 sitting legislators and three AICC secretaries Sudhir Sharma, Rakesh Kalia and Rajesh Dharmani. The PEC has already cleared the names of the two former state unit chiefs Kaul Singh Thakur and Kuldeep Kumar.
Four-fold increase in number of aspirants
The Congress has seen a four-fold increase in the number of ticket applicants for the assembly elections as compared to the 2017 elections. This time, 1,347 aspirants applied for the Congress ticket for 68 seats, an average of 19 contenders for each ticket.
In the 2017 elections, 400 candidates had filed applications for the party ticket. The highest number of 40 applications was received for Shimla (Urban) seat, represented by urban development minister Suresh Bhardwaj, who won three consecutive times in 2007, 2012 and 2017. The Congress last won the seat in 2003.
The number of candidates is more this time seemingly because the party did not charge an application fee.