Dehradun: The Congress on Saturday fielded former chief minister Harish Rawat from Nainital and veteran BJP leader BC Khanduri's son, Manish Khanduri, from Garhwal in its list of candidates for all the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand. It has fielded state Congress president Pritam Singh from Tehri Garhwal, Pradeep Tamta from Almora (SC) and Ambrish Kumar from Haridwar.
With Monday being the last date for filing nominations in Uttarakhand, all eyes were fixed on the Congress to announce its candidates for the five seats going to polls on April 11. The BJP has already announced its candidates for the five seats on Thursday.
It will be a clash of heavyweights in Nainital with Harish Rawat taking on state BJP president Ajay Bhatt and Pritam Singh battling it out with sitting MP Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah in Tehri.
Though Harish Rawat had lost both the seats he had contested in the last assembly polls, he continues to be a seasoned and the most prominent Congress leader in the state, enjoying a connect with people at the grassroots.
Bhatt, on the other hand, is not only the state BJP president, but a former MLA from Ranikhet who was the Leader of Opposition in the assembly when Harish Rawat was chief minister. Bhatt had also lost his seat in the last assembly polls.
Tehri will also witness a tough battle for Pritam Singh who will be up against Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah. Singh is credited with winning the Chakrata seat despite his party faring poorly in the last assembly election.
Though a sitting MP from the Tehri royal family which has a strong political hold in the constituency, Shah faces the challenge of overcoming an anti-incumbency factor and taking on a strong opponent in Singh.
Pauri will witness an interesting battle with Manish Khanduri, son of former chief minister BC Khanduri, up against Tirath Singh Rawat, the BJP veteran's political disciple.
Both the candidates will try to cash in on the popularity of Khanduri, who had opted not to contest this time. Khanduri is the most formidable leader from the state with a strong support base in his constituency.