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Himachal Congress leaders shy of contesting from Hamirpur

Posted on Mar 13 2014 | IANS

Shimla, March 13 : Himachal Pradesh Congress leaders, including a cabinet minister, do not want to contest the Lok Sabha election from Hamirpur constituency, a party leader said Thursday.

Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri has written a letter to the party high command, expressing his reluctance to contest from Hamirpur, the pocket borough of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress has won the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat only once in the past 25 years. The state - which has four seats - will go to polls May 7.

"After Agnihotri's reluctance, the Congress is banking only on BJP rebel Rajinder Rana from Hamirpur," the leader told IANS.

Rana is an associate member of the Congress and a legislator from Sujanpur, part of the Hamirpur constituency where the opposition BJP has retained two-time MP Anurag Thakur.

"I am ready to contest the election from Hamirpur," Rana told IANS.

Rana said he was asked by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to apply for the ticket and he complied.

"Since the chief minister has reposed faith in me, I am ready to resign from the current seat (assembly) and contest the Lok Sabha poll," he added.

State Congress chief Sukhvinder Sukhu, however, put forward the name of Agnihotri from Hamirpur.

Of the six Congress legislators in Hamirpur, Agnihotri is the only cabinet minister.

Sources said that even during meetings with the party leadership in Delhi, Virbhadra Singh and Sukhu have been adamant on their stand on the Hamirpur ticket.

Virbhadra Singh has also said that Sukhu, who belongs to Hamirpur, should be made the candidate if Rana is not inclined to stand from there.

But according to party sources, even Sukhu has ruled himself out of the contest.

In the 2009 elections, the BJP won Shimla (reserved), Kangra and Hamirpur while the Congress bagged Mandi.

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