The Congress screening committee Thursday finalised more than 45 names for the forthcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. The names were finalised in a meeting of the screening committee, led by senior leader Deepa Das Munshi and the party’s state unit office bearers in Delhi. The names finalised in the meeting, which lasted for nearly six hours, will be further deliberated upon by the national committee.
As per the officials privy to the development, names of nearly all the sitting legislators have been finalized. The list also has names of three three AICC secretaries — Sudhir Sharma from Dharamshala, Rajesh Dharmani from Ghumarwein, and RS Bali from Nagrota Bagwan seat in Kangra, represented earlier by his father GS Bali.
Further, names of two former HPCC chiefs, Kaul Singh and Kuldeep Kumar, have also been nearly finalized, said officials. Key seats such as Theog and Shimla (Urban), which has seen the maximum applications, will be discussed further.
“There have been deliberations regarding the tickets in the Delhi meeting. Another meeting will be held to finalize the remaining names. The final list of names will be forwarded to the central committee following which the first list will be announced. The idea is to ensure that the winnability factor is maintained,” said Naresh Chauhan, vice president, HPCC.
Among others the meeting was attended by AICC in charge Rajiv Shukla, PCC chief Pratibha Singh, Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, AICC secretaries, and the campaign committee head Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.
As the tickets are being finalized, preferred candidates are being backed by different camps including those of Pratibha Singh, and Mukesh Agnihotri among others. The ticket deliberations come at a time when a five-time MLA Ram Lal Thakur resigned from the post of HPCC vice-president citing issues with the party functioning.
One of the key challenges for the party will be to maintain a united face given factionalism within the state unit. In a press conference held on Thursday, BJP poll in charge for Himachal Devendra Singh Rana said that the Congress party has conceded defeat in the elections as its party members do not trust the leadership.