New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday cleared the nominations of chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s son from Shimla Rural and minister Kaul Singh Thakur’s daughter from Mandi for the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls, relaxing its “one family, one ticket” formula.
Just a day before the filing of nomination for the November 9 election comes to an end, the party announced its final list of nine candidates.
The party fielded Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress president and Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh from the prestigious Shimla Rural constituency, earlier held by his father, and state minister Kaul Singh Thakur’s daughter Champa Thakur from Mandi (Sadar).
The Congress had initially dithered over fielding Vikramaditya Singh and Champa Thakur, but gave in to pressure at the last minute, party sources said.
According to the party sources, the Congress was taking its “one family, one ticket” formula, whereby only one member of a family would be made party candidate, seriously and this was the reason for the delay in declaring the candidates for Shimla Rural and Mandi seats.
Earlier on Sunday, the party released its second list of seven candidates, withholding the names of its nominees for just two seats – Shimla Rural and Mandi (Sadar).
About an hour later, the party, however, cleared the nominations of Vikramaditya Singh and Champa Thakur.
Virbhadra Singh had earlier publicly declared that his son would contest from his seat. The chief minister has moved to the Arki assembly seat in Solan district and the party has declared his candidature from there.
Champa Thakur’s father Kaul Singh Thakur has been fielded from the Darang assembly constituency. Champa Thakur’s seat, Mandi, was held by former Union minister Sukh Ram’s son Anil Sharma. Anil Sharma has quit the party and is now the BJP candidate from the seat.
Today is the last day for filing of nominations for the election to the 68-member assembly. The Congress had on October 18 announced its first list of 59 candidates.
In the second list of candidates, the Congress fielded Kewal Singh Pathania from Shahpur and Ashish Butail from Palampur, currently held by outgoing speaker Brij Bihari Lal Butail, who did not want to contest this time. Ashish Butail is the son of the outgoing speaker.
Party strongman from Shahpur, Vijay Singh Mankotia, has revolted against the chief minister and filed his nomination as an independent candidate.
The Congress fielded Deepak Rathore from the Theog assembly constituency, earlier represented by state minister Vidya Stokes.
Hari Chand Sharma has been declared as the party candidate from Manali, while Surinder Thakur will be the Congress nominee from Kullu.
The Congress fielded Vivek Sharma from Kutlehar, while Lakhwinder Rana has been fielded from Nalagarh.
In addition, the party replaced its candidate from Anni.
Paras Ram will contest from the seat in place of Bansi Lal, whose name was declared in the first list.
Party leaders said in Shimla that the chief minister would be present during the filing of nomination by his son from Shimla (Rural) tomorrow. Champa Thakur has already filed her nomination from Mandi (Sadar), they said.
The Congress is pitted against the BJP in the assembly in the hilly state. The BJP had on October 18 announced the names of its candidates for the November 9 polls.
The assembly poll results will be declared on December 18.
Following his nomination as the Congress candidate from Shimla Rural, Vikramaditya Singh has resigned as the state Youth Congress chief.
In his resignation letter sent to Indian Youth Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja, he thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi for nominating him as party candidate.
“Since I also hold the post of president, Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress, it would not be wise to continue on the same as I would not be able to devote time for the organisation at this crucial time, post my candidature announcement in the larger interest of the party.
“I, hence, tender my resignation and suggest that senior vice president be made the working president till the next organisational election,” he said in his letter.
Virbhadra Singh had earlier called for the resignation of Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, who is the party candidate from Nadaun.
The chief minister has long been asking the Congress leadership to replace Sukhu and even wrote to Rahul Gandhi demanding his removal.