Millennium Post

Himachal polls: Congress announces second list, CM's son doesn't figure

New Delhi/Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's son Vikramaditya did not figure in the Congress' second list of seven of the nine pending candidates for the November 9 assembly polls in the state.
Except for Shimla Rural and Mandi, the party has declared candidates for all the other assembly seats.
Besides Vikramaditya, the party also withheld the declaration of the candidature of Health Minister Kaul Singh's daughter Champa Thakur who is eyeing to contest the election from Mandi.
Vikramaditya is being speculated as the party's candidate from Shimla Rural, the seat his father is currently representing. The Chief Minister is keen to see his son's assembly debut from this constituency.
The list comprised party leaders like Kewal Singh Pathania (Shahpur), Ashish Butail (Palampur), Hari Chand Sharma (Manali), Surender Singh Thakur (Kullu), Vivek Sharma (Kutlehar), Lakhwinder Rana (Nalagarh) and Deepak Rathore (Theog).
The Congress changed one candidate in the second list. Paras Ram replaced Bansi Lal for the Anni (reserved) constituency.
The first list of 59 candidates was declared on October 18. The state has a 68-member assembly.
The last date of filing nominations for the polls is October 23.
In a faux pas, the Chief Minister's tour programme, released here on Sunday by the party, says Virbhadra Singh will participate in the nomination programme of Vikramaditya Singh on Monday.
Even Cabinet Minister Kaul Singh's daughter on Saturday filed nomination papers as an Independent candidate from the Mandi seat from where the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has pitted Congress rebel and former Cabinet Minister Anil Sharma who resigned as a minister just ahead of the polls.
"Only my name has been recommended by the state party unit for this seat. I will definitely get the ticket," a confident-sounding Champa told reporters in Mandi town after filing the papers.
She said she was filing her papers as an Independent. She would apply as a Congress candidate later after getting approval from the party high command.
The Mandi seat is considered a strong Congress bastion and Sharma is a three-time legislator from this seat.
Champa's father Kaul Singh is the Health and Family Welfare Minister in the Virbhadra Singh-led cabinet.
He himself is recontesting from Darang in Mandi district.
Party leaders said the Congress is not keen to give tickets to relatives of the party candidates as it is against the party's "one family, one ticket formula".
For the Palampur seat, the party gave the nomination to sitting legislator B.B.L. Butail's son Ashish Butail as he cited his old age as the reason for not recontesting the polls.
Gokul Butail, the nephew of B.B.L. Butail, one of the biggest tea planters in the state, was upset with the Congress' second list as he was the frontrunner for the party ticket from Palampur.
"I had returned to India from the US in 2014 to contribute to India. I was a frontrunner for Congress ticket but lost the fight after days of struggle," he wrote on his Facebook page.

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