Himachal elections: Congress names candidates

New Delhi/Shimla, Oct 22: The Congress on Sunday announced the second and third lists of candidates for the November 9 assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh which include Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's son Vikramaditya. He will be contesting from Shimla Rural -- a seat his father is currently representing.

The third and final list, announced a few hours after the second list, had only two names -- Vikramaditya Singh and Health Minister Kaul Singh's daughter Champa Thakur who will be contesting from Mandi.

Earlier in the day, of the eight candidates announced in the second list, Paras Ram's name was included in place of Bansi Lal for the Anni (SC) constituency.

The list included 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 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.

Champa Thakur had 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 was 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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