The Congress on Tuesday finalised 39 candidates, including all sitting MLAs, for the upcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls. The list of names approved on Tuesday include Vikramaditya Singh from Shimla Rural and Mukesh Agnihotri from Haroli. Singh is the son of former CM Virbhadra Singh. Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh, who is the party MP from Mandi, is unlikely to contest, sources said.
Sources said that the first list of names is likely to be announced within the next two days. The decision was taken in a meeting of Central Election Committee (CEC) chaired by interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The meeting, held at Gandhi’s 10, Janpath residence, was attended by senior leaders Ambika Soni, K C Venugopal, Girija Vyas, Mukul Wasnik, Verrappa Moily, Mohsina Kidwai, AICC in-charge for Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla and HPCC president Pratibha Singh.
Among other names approved at the CEC meeting are senior party leader and former state unit chief Kaul Singh Thakur from Dorang in Mandi district, former PCC chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu from Nadaun, and Prakash Chaudhary from Balh in Mandi district.
Former BJP state president Khimi Ram, who switched over to the Congress, has also been cleared for contesting from Banjar and another former BJP leader, Dyal Piyari, is likely to be fielded from Sirmaur.
As per officials privy to the development, the list may name three AICC secretaries — Sudhir Sharma from Dharamshala, Rajesh Dharmani from Ghumarwein, and RS Bali from Nagrota Bagwan seat in Kangra.
Further, names of two former HPCC chiefs, Kaul Singh and Kuldeep Kumar, have also been nearly finalised, officials said. Key seats such as Theog and Shimla (Urban), which have seen the maximum applications, will undergo another round of screening. Priyanka Gandhi, who is Uttar Pradesh in-charge for AICC, is likely to kick off the party’s campaign with a rally next month, sources said.
(With inputs from PTI)