Shimla: Making winnablity the prime criteria, the congress has decided to try out 18 new candidates, even as party has dropped deputy speaker Dharam Pal Thakur and horticulture minister Singhi Ram for its nominees list for the December poll that was released here today.
Sorting out the ticklish question of making 5 independents MLA as congress nominees proved hard for party and only 4 find their names in the official list with Rakesh Verma, a MLA from Theog has been denied the party ticket. Of the four independents, 3 will fight on the congress symbol for the first time.
Besides Singhi Ram, other ministers not contesting the election this time include animal husbandry minister Harsh Mahajan and rural development minister Sat Mahajan. Another veteran congress leader the former communication minister Sukh Ram is not in the list of party nominees released by party spokesman Kuldeep Rathore, here. Citing old age Sat Mahajan and Sukh Ram had earlier announced to call it a day in electoral politics.
In place of Dharam Pal, the party has decided to field Prakash Chand Karad from Arki and Nand Lal replaces Singhi Ram from the Rampur constituency.
Instead of Sat Mahajan, his son Ajay Mahajan has been given the ticket from Nurpur and in place of Sukh Ram, his son Anil Sharma is the congress nominee from Mandi seat. Harsh Mahajan for personal reasons had earlier declined to contest the election, this time.
The congress has allotted ticket to six women candidates. Among the new candidates are Kewal Singh Pathania, the state NSUI president, Nikhil Rajour, brother of state congress president Viplove Thakur and Ruma Kaundal, a new woman candidate.
Failing to groom new leadership, the congress has heavily relied on good-will of families who have been at the helm of affairs by pitching in as many as 8 â€˜winnableâ€™ candidates, with strong congress lineages.
The senior most party nominee with a congress lineage is Kush Parmar, son of the states first chief minister YS Parmar and considered founder of the hill state.
Others election candidates from the congress stock are Harwardhan Chauhan, son of late Ghuman Singh, Rohit Thakur, grandson of former chief minister late Ram Lal Thakur, Sudhir Sharma, son of late Sant Ram, Neeraj Bharti, son of parliamentarian Chander Kumar, Anil Sharma, son of former communication minister Sukh Ram, Ajay Mahajan, son of rural development minister Sat Mahajan and Nikhil Rajour, the brother of state congress president Viplov Thakur. In all they constitute 11.7 % of the candidates fielded by the over a hundred year old party.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh is the candidate from Rohru, Vidya Stokes from Kumarsain, octogenarian congressman Raj Kishan Gaur from Kullu, Kaul Singh Thakur from Drang, Rangila Ram Rao for Gopalpur and GS Bali from Nagrota. All other sitting congress legislators have been party nominees again.