HP Congress poll panel to deliberate on candidates in Delhi
All eyes on former Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma, a prominent G-23 signatory, whether he will attend the crucial meeting or not
With the assembly elections just a few months away, the Himachal Pradesh Congress is all geared up for the contest and to stay ahead of the ruling BJP may announce the first list of candidates soon.
The Congress has called a meeting of its 20-member election committee for Himachal on September 5 in New Delhi.
The meeting to be presided over by AICC in-charge for Himachal Rajeev Shukla will discuss the probable candidates for the assembly elections.
Party sources said that the members would discuss a panel of probable candidates for at least 40 assembly seats and send the names to the screening committee.
HPCC president Pratibha Singh, election campaign committee chairman Sukhwinder Sukhu, LoP Mukesh Agnihotri, Asha Kumari, and Viplove Thakur among others are likely to attend the crucial meeting.
It was not sure whether former Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma will attend the meeting or not. He had resigned from the Congress steering committee owing to his differences over not being consulted on party affairs in Himachal with Shukla, though he had tried to placate him later.
The Congress has sought applications from the candidates who want to contest the assembly elections till September 1.
The party this time announced that those aspiring for a ticket could submit their applications to the block and district committees or could apply directly at the Congress committee office in Shimla.
“A total of 312 people have applied for tickets from 68 assembly segments,” said Amit Pal Singh, political secretary to Pratibha Singh.
Shimla seats have a maximum of eight claimants so far, he added.
The applications will be scrutinised from September 2 to 4 and names will be shortlisted after discussion in the state election committee meeting.
The screening committee headed by Deepa Dass Munshi after finalising the names will send a list to the national election committee. It is likely that the national panel will release the first list of candidates by September end.
This will give more time to these candidates for campaigning.
In the first phase, candidates will be decided for such assembly constituencies where the ticket claimants are less.
The Congress that has 22 legislators in the 68-member house is also conducting surveys to assess the popularity of its candidates.
The party leadership was of the opinion that it should declare the name of sitting legislators, who have bright prospects in the elections.
The Congress has hired several agencies to assess the party’s position on the grounds. The party has made it clear that the winnability will be the sole criteria, even though many aspirants have already taken to the field and are busy in the backdoor lobbying for tickets.
Pull up socks: Pratibha to HP leaders
Pratibha Singh has asked the state party leaders to pull up their socks for the upcoming elections.
She said that for the first time in Himachal, the Congress has kept no application fee for party tickets so that even a common worker can also apply.
She said the final decision on the candidates rests with the Congress’ central election committee.
The Congress president also warned those leaders and office-bearers who were projecting candidates in their public meetings.
“No one should violate the party directives,” she said, adding that the Congress was fully prepared for the assembly elections.
She said that during her recent Delhi visit, she had a detailed discussion with the Congress high command.
The Mandi MP, meanwhile, accused the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government of misusing the government machinery for campaigns.
She said that the CM was trying to mislead the people of the state by making lucrative announcements.
“The state’s economy is in a total mess. Property worth crores has been damaged due to heavy rains. Crops of farmers and orchardists have been destroyed, but the government has not even taken any initiative to help the people and compensate for their losses,” she added.
“Our government will also work on generating more employment opportunities for the youth besides taking care of interests of traders, farmers and horticulturists,” said the Congress president.