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Congress bends norm for Himachal elections

Posted on Oct 07, 11:10AM | IBNS

The Congress party on Saturday broke tradition to allow a sitting MP, Virbhadra Singh, to contest in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh elections, as it sought to play its most prominent leader from the state against the BJP's Prem Kumar Dhumal, the incumbent chief minister.

Singh, the President of the Congress party's unit in the north Indian state and a former Union Minister, is likely to contest from the Shimla (Rural) constituency.

His name was confirmed following a meeting of the Congress Central Election Committee headed by Sonia Gandhi that met to decide on the nominations for the 68-member Assembly in the state.

The panel, the meeting for which was also attended by Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, on Saturday decided nominees for as many as 52 constituencies.

According to the committee's decisions, Congress legislature party leader Vidya Stokes is party's nominee from Theogh.

Former Lok Sabha Member Colonel (retd) Dhani Ram Shandil will contest elections from Solan while Vijai Singh Mankotia is party nominee from Shahpur.

Former education minister Asha Kumari was given ticket from Dalhousie and Kaul Singh will contest Darang seat.

Former forest Minister Rama Lal will contest election from Naina Devi.

The party has pitted Narender Thakur son of late BJP stalwart Thakur Jagdev Chand against chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal from Hamirpur.

Names in 16 constituencies, which include Chamba, Nurpur, Jawali, Jawalamukhi, Kangra, Dharmashala, Lahual and Spiti, Manali, Seraj, Bhoranj, Una, Arki, B Nahan, Poanta, Kasumpti and Shimla, were not finalised owing to a number of disputes, reports said.

Earlier, prominent leaders from the state, including Virbhadra Singh and Congress' Himachal Affairs chief Birender Singh attended meetings of the the State Election Committee headed by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday and the Central Scrutiny Committee on Saturday.

The Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh would elect new state assemblies on Nov 4, announced Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath on Wednesday.

Counting of votes would be held on Dec 20.