By : Mohan Verma
Ruling Congress has announced all the four seats while main opposition BJP declared its candidates on three seats where as CPI(M) and AAP decided to pit two each in the Lok Sabha elections, for which polling is to be held on May 7 in Himachal Pradesh.
Congress decided to put chief minister’s wife Mrs. Pratibha Singh, Mr. Mohan Lal Bragta and Mr. Chander Kumar in the fray from Mandi, Shimla (reserved) and Kangra constituencies respectively. The fourth one, Mr. Rajinder Rana, who was considered Dhumal loyalist earlier, is likely to put by Congress in the fray against sitting MP, Mr. Anurag Thakur for Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat.
Mr. Rana who had resigned from the state assembly and had formally joined the Congress yesterday and was named party candidate from Hamirpur as none of party’s own leader was considered fit by the party to head on with Mr. Dhumal family.
Of the four seats, the BJP won Shimla (reserved), Kangra and Hamirpur while the Congress bagged Mandi during the 2009 general elections.
Congress also decided to pit Mr. Singh loyalists Mr. Chander Kumar from Kangra Parliamentary segment against Mr. Shanta Kumar of BJP sitting MP of BJP. Mr. Rajan Sushant has now joined and put in the fray by Aam Adami Party (AAP) from Kangra, also considered the strong fort of BJP.
The saffron party is yet to announce its candidate for the Mandi seat, which is a stronghold of the Congress.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has fielded two candidates from the state. They are Mr. Kushal Bhardwaj and labour leader Mr. Jagat Ram from Mandi and Shimla, respectively.
Besides Mr. Sushant, AAP has fielded Mrs. Kamal Kanta Batra, mother of the 1999 Kargil war hero Capt. Vikram Batra, from Hamirpur, the seat dominated by defence personnel and ex-servicemen.
Interestingly, this time Congress leaders, including a cabinet minister, were shying away from contesting the election from the Hamirpur constituency.
Industries Minister Mr. Mukesh Agnihotri has written a letter to the party high command, expressing his reluctance to contest from Hamirpur.
The Congress has won the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat only once in the past 25 years.
State Congress chief Mr. Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu had however, put forward the name of Mr. Agnihotri from Hamirpur.
Of the six Congress legislators in Hamirpur, Mr. Agnihotri is the only cabinet minister.