BJP, Cong get into poll mode; Cong wants top leaders to contest
Shimla: In the state, where there power equations swings between two national parties – BJP and the Congress, the battle for upcoming Lok Sabha polls is getting quite interesting this time.
The BJP, which had won all the four seats in 2014 , wants to retain all sitting MPs, including party veteran Shanta Kumar, 84, for the contest but the Congress is looking at new choices to field its top seniors.
At a meeting of the Congress's election committee, held on Wednesday at Chandigarh, the party has shortlisted names for all the four Parliamentary constituencies even proposing to former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh either to contest himself from Mandi Lok Sabha constituency or make sure that his son Vikramaditya Singh, a sitting MLA elected first-time from Shimla (rural) contests the seat.
The BJP's core committee in its two days meeting has also shortlisted the names for Shimla, Kangra, Mandi and Hamirpur Parliamentary constituencies.
Initially, there was much suspense on party senior Shanta Kumar, who had won Kangra Parliamentary seat in 2014 but it looks Shanta Kumar is well settled to re-enter the poll fray.
Admits Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur "as far as the decision on tickets is concerned, there is already consensus in the party not to change candidates. On Shanta Kumar's candidature, the party's national leadership will take a final call. But, we are clear on retaining the candidates."
In Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency, where three-time sitting MP Anurag Thakur, who was also BJP's Chief whip, will be party's candidate while two other incumbent MPs — Ram Swaroop Sharma (Mandi) and Virender Kashyap (Shimla) will be back in the contest.
Beside Mandi, Parliamentary seats of Hamirpur, Shimla and Kangra have become quite high stake constituencies for the Congress, which the party has not won for several years. The name of Congress legislature Party (CLP) leader Mukesh Agnihotri was being prominently mentioned as 'winning" candidate or one who can really give Anurag Thakur a tough fight. Given a chance Agnihotri – a Virbhadra Singh loyalist,w ill not risk his political career.
Kangra Parliamentary seat is also a hot spot for the Congress. Former Minister G S Bali is Congress heavyweight in the area also keen to contest the Lok Sabha. Another former minister Sudhir Sharma could be considered for the contest.
In Shimla, former MP Col (Rtd) Dhani Ram Shandil is also party's choice to take on incumbent MP Virender Kashayp. But, being a sitting MLA, he may not also look forward to contesting. Vinod Sultanpuri son of former MP Late K D Sultanpuri is another contender for the ticket.
In totality, the Congress is undoubtedly looking forward to put-up a good show in the poll. The party has a bigger struggle to make some of the leaders agree to contest the poll rather than building-up a campaign against the BJP.