Virbhadra contesting could upset BJPs apple cart

Shimla: Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh dropping hints about contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections has set the cat among pigeons by putting ruling BJP on alert mode, who have responded with advancing old guard Shanta Kumar as a possible candidate, should the high commands ask him.
After Pratibha Singh, sitting parliamentarian from Mandi seat and wife of Virbhadra Singh, declined to contest the upcoming elections, congress had put out notice for a winnable candidate.
Maheswar Singh, former BJP MP and a scion of the Kullu royal house, in the face of opposition from within the party threatened the congress bastion and staked claim to the BJP ticket.
Other names cropping up in BJP include that of Jai Ram Thakur, state president and Ajay Rana, district president.
With Virbhadra Singh having stated if congress president Sonia Gandhi asks him he was not averse to contesting from Mandi, BJP’s hopes lie thwarted.
Critics within congress, who had written off the former chief minister, are grudgingly converging around the aging leader again.
A subdued Kaul Singh, state congress president, has thrown in his hat into the ring saying if the party high command wishes he was ready to contest the Mandi seat.
The year old ruling BJP, intending to consolidate its gains, is finding the going tough for no consensus has emerged over candidates for Kangra, Mandi and Shimla seats. Sitting MP, Anurag Thakur has been named as the party candidate for Hamirpur seat already.
“Shanta Kumar remains our best bet for the Kangra seat,” says Jai Ram Thakur, BJP state president.
But with Kumar, a Rajya Sabha member, having declined to enter the fray the party is asking anyone of the four ministers (Sarveen Chaudhary, Kishan Kapoor, Ravinder Ravi and Ramesh Dhwala) to contest Kangra seat against sitting Congressman Chander Kumar.
With the ministers not inclined to enter the contest, party sources said that other names doing the round are Rajan Sushant, a former minister and Rajiv Bhardwaj, a relative of Shanta Kumar.
“Party high commands diktat will prevail over candidate choice,” says Jai Ram, “we have done our home work and are ready to finalize candidates for the remaining three seats.”

For the Shimla reserved seat, HN Kashyap and Virinder Kashyap are being considered to put a fight against three time MP Col. Dhani Ram Shandil of congress.
For the Hamirpur seat, congress is on weak ground as Ram Lal Thakur, a former minister, has lost three consecutive elections to BJP for the seat.
Poised to take up cudgels against Anurag Thakur, son of chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, the congress is toying with setting up Narinder Thakur, who recently deserted BJP and joined the congress, for putting up a fight for the seat.

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