The race for the the Rajya Sabha seat from Himachal, up for grabs next month when the term of BJP MP Kashyap Sood ends, has begun hotting up. The Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, is being considered the frontrunner while state IPH minister Vidya Stokes also appears to be in the running.
Sharma, the former union Commerce minister, appears the firm favourite. He currently represents Rajasthan but his term as the Rajya Sabha member is set to end around the same time the vacancy will be created in Himachal Pradesh.
Stokes though has the backing of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. She is the senior-most member of the cabinet, after the chief minister. At 89 years of age, however, Stokes has not been in good health for some time now. Her Irrigation and Public Health Department (IPH) is also under fire over the jaundice outbreak in Shimla.
The CM though remains strongly on her side. Stokes making it to the Rajya Sabha also work in his favour, as Virbhadra can then field a person of his choice as her successor in Theog constituency. Sources admit that if it comes to that, the choice will most probably be his son, Youth Congress president Vikramaditya Singh.
In the backdrop of Sharma’s candidature, it is learnt that PCC president Sukhwinder Sukhu is also eying the position. Sukhu had lost the 2012 assembly polls even as his party had assumed power but has been made to head the state Congress unit.
There are three Rajya Sabha seats, besides the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal. Besides Bimla Kashyap Sood, the two other Rajya Sabha members are Union Health Minister J P Nadda and former Congress president Viplove Thakur.