After days of uncertainty and dilly-dallying, the Congress high command announced its first list of 46 candidates for the November 12 Himachal Pradesh polls, taking the lead over the Bharatiya Janata Party which is yet to do so.
The Congress, however, is still confabulating on the remaining 22 seats.
Though the names had been finalised earlier, differences over some candidates prevented the party from announcing the list. Most of the sitting MLAs find their names in the list except Kinnaur where legislator Jagat Singh Negi had won last time. The party has chosen to keep the name in abeyance on this tribal seat for which state Youth Congress president Nigam Bhandari has staked claim.
Importantly, former minister Kaul Singh Thakur and his daughter Champa Thakur have been given tickets from Darang and Mandi Sadar constituencies, ignoring the “one family, one ticket” rule.
The list has three women candidates including MLA from Dalhousie Asha Kumari. Caste and regional equations have been weighed while finalising the names. The party also seems to have taken into consideration different lobbies within the state unit. Leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri will contest from Haroli while Sukhwinder Sukhu has got the ticket from Nadaun.
Sources said that the finalisation of the first list gave a lot of headache to the party high command. At the central election committee meeting, sources said, differences had emerged between Anand Sharma, State unit Chief Pratibha Chauhan and leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri.
The party could face more challenges finalising the remaining constituencies. The seats on which the party is having a tough time deciding the candidates include Shimla (Urban) where there were over three dozen applicants and Bharmour (Chamba) where the tussle for ticket is on between former minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri and Youth Congress general secretary Amit Bharmouri.
The party has also not finalised its candidates for Jwalamukhi and Dehra seats in Kangra with an eye on the BJP list. With reports indicating that five-time MLA Ravinder Singh Ravi and former minister Ramesh Dhawala could switch sides if denied tickets by the BJP, the party is adopting a wait-and-watch policy for the two seats.
Read all the Latest Politics News and Breaking News here