Thursday, January 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

BJP clears 60 names
HP Deputy Speaker Malangar dropped
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
Fearing massive rebellion, the BJP’s Central Election Committee today gave its approval to the list of candidates proposed by the party’s state unit and cleared the names of 60 candidates for the February 26 Assembly poll in Himachal Pradesh, retaining majority of the sitting MLAs.

The final decision on rest of the eight ‘undecided’ seats, where the State Election Commission could not arrive at a consensus due to more than two strong contenders, have been referred to BJP President Venkaiah Naidu. The decision on these seats is expected latest by tomorrow evening or by January 31 morning.

These eight seats are Kinnaur (ST), Arki, Nalagarh, Nahan, Pragpur (SC), Kulu, Banjar and Karsog, top party sources told The Tribune here.

The biggest casualty has been Deputy Speaker of Himachal Assembly Ram Dass Malangar, who has been dropped from the Kutlehar constituency and replaced by Mr Virender Kanwar.

State Horticulture Minister Narinder Bragta has been denied renomination from Simla and has been shifted to the less important Jubbal Kotkhai seat.

Mr Gulab Singh Thakur, Speaker of Himachal Assembly, who recently left the Congress and joined the BJP, has been renominated from his Joginder Nagar constituency.

The party has preferred to give ticket to Ganesh Dutt from Simla. Mr Dutt, is a convener of BJP Media Cell and also Vice Chairman of the Housing Board.

Agriculture Minister Vidya Sagar Chaudhary, who had resigned recently on his own from the Dhumal Ministry, has been replaced in the Kangra constituency by Mr Rattan Jagdhamba, Chairman of the Kangra Zila Parishad.

Among the prominent leaders whose fate is hanging fire are Mr Karan Singh, Primary Education Minister and sitting MLA from Kulu. Mr Karan Singh is a brother of Lok Sabha MP from Mandi, Mr Maheshwar Singh.

Interestingly, in the Chamba constituency, the party has decided to field Mr B K Chauhan, a former IAS officer and a confidante of Chief Minister P K Dhumal. Mr Chauhan, who was an IAS officer of the Jharkhand cadre, took voluntary retirement recently to contest the ensuing poll.

In Mandi ticket has been given to Ms Kiran Kumari, ‘Rani of Mandi’ in place of Mr Kanhaiya Lal, who contested unsuccessfully in the last elections.

While in Theog, Mr Gyan Chandel, an advocate, has been given ticket, Mr Sanjay Shastri has replaced his father Radha Raman Shastri in Chopal and in Gagret (SC) Mr Balbir Chowdhury, an advocate and a new face, has been given party ticket. Mr Radha Raman Shastri had unsuccessfully contested the last poll from Theog.

Among the ministers who retained their ticket include Mr Roop Dass Kashyap (Kasumpti), Mr Rishi Ram Kaundal (Geharwin), Mr Parveen Sharma (Chintpurni), Mr Ramesh Chand (Jawalamukhi), Mr Kishan Chand Kapoor (Dharamsala) and Mr Mohan Lal (Rajnagar).


Cong may not ally with HVC; clears 46 names
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
With the Congress not likely to have a tie-up with the Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC), the party’s screening committee on Himachal Pradesh today cleared candidates for 46 of the 68 seats in the state. The candidates will be declared after tomorrow’s meeting of the Central Election Committee of the party.

Sources said that today’s screening committee meeting and the views of party leaders on the proposed alliance with the HVC were discussed by party general secretary Mohsina Kidwai at a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the evening. Mrs Kidwai later indicated that the Congress would contest the poll on its own.

While the opposition from former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was one of the reasons for the party deciding against joining hands with the HVC, the talks were struck on the issue of seats. The Congress was not willing to concede the number of seats being demanded by the HVC leader.

The sources said that the screening committee today finalised candidates on 46 seats and kept the decision pending on 22 seats. These seats will be decided tomorrow. They said that PCC chief Vidya Stokes was likely to contest from Kumarsein and would have the choice to decide the candidate from Theog.

Among the seats kept pending were of party MLAs from Ghumarwin, Kasauli and Banikhet. The sources said that no decision has been taken on the seats of Simla, Solan, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Nadaun, Nadaunta, Santokhgarh, Chintpurni, Jawalamukhi, Thural, Sulah, Kangra, Bhattyat, Karsog, Chachiot, Dharampur and Mandi.

The screening committee meeting, which was attended by senior leaders, including Mr Manmohan Singh, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, Ms Ambika Soni and Mr Buta Singh besides former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Mrs Stokes, lasted for almost five hours. Dr Manmohan Singh, who heads the screening committee, later had separate meetings with Mr Virbhadra Singh and Mrs Stokes.

Mr Virbhadra Singh and Mrs Stokes held closed-door meetings with their ‘close associates’. 

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