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Rajya Sabha seat in Himachal: BJP leaves it to high command

Shimla: As the ruling BJP is all set to wrest lone Rajya Sabha seat from the Congress, the party leadership in the state on Monday left it upto the high command to make its choice for the candidate from Himachal Pradesh.

Names of half a dozen leaders including former state BJP president Satpal Satti and some RSS favourites are already going around as probables to fill-up the vacancy being created on end of the second-term of Viplove Thakur, a veteran Congress leader

The election committee of the party, which met on Monday afternoon in Shimla, discussed names of few strong probables but decided to leave the decision to the BJP high command.

"Some names were discussed by the committee in today's meeting. We formulated the panel of names as part of our recommendation.The final call will be party's highest decision making body," said BJP president Dr Rajeev Bindal.

In the meeting held on Monday among others, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, MP Ram Swaroop Singh, former state party chief Satpal Satti, organising secretary Pawan Rana, former MPs Virender Kashyap and Kirpal Parmar, party chief spokesman Randhir Sharma and former Mahila Morcha president Indu Goswami were present. Presence of Indu Goswami, who had lost the election form Palampur in 2017 polls, in Monday's meeting was significant. She is one of the important names being discussed for the Rajya Sabha .

Many believe Mohinder Pandey, a senior BJP leader and currently incharge at BJP national headquarters will be most likely name to figure in the final around. He is considered close to BJP president J P Nadda and also Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. Pandey had played key role in making of Thakur as Chief Minister, apart from instrumental in Nadda's rise to the top post.

There is also a surprise name of Dr Kuldeep Chand Agnihotri, currently vice-chancellor of Central University at Dharamshala. He is a staunch RSS favouriate.

As the Congress has decided not to field its candidate, the BJP candidate will be elected to the Rajya Sabha unopposed. The BJP has 44 members in the 68 member state assembly.

Two Independent MLAs are supporting the BJP. The Opposition Congress has only 21 members, whereas the CPI(M) has one MLA.

The other two Rajya Sabha seats from Himachal Pradesh are held by J.P Nadda and Congress deputy leader in the Parliament Anand Sharma.

Nadda will retire from the Rajya Sabha in 2024, whereas Sharma's term will end in 2022.

A section of the BJP feel that Satti, who led the party for eight years till January 16 this year should get a chance to serve the party as Rajya Sabha member. He had lost poll in 2017.

As per the election schedule issued by the ECI, the last date for filing of the nomination is March 13.

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