M A I N   N E W S

Cong announces five candidates for Haryana

Chandigarh, April 4
Congress candidates for five out of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana were decided this evening at a meeting of the partyís central election committee (CEC) in Delhi.

Party sources said Mr Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of HPCC chief Bhajan Lal, would be the nominee from Bhiwani; Ms Selja, a former union minister, from Ambala (reserved); Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Leader of the Opposition in Haryana, from Rohtak; Mr Dharampal Malik from Sonepat; and Mr Atma Singh Gill, a former MLA from Fatehabad district, will be the candidate from the Sirsa (reserved) seat.

For the five remaining seats of the state, the candidates reportedly could not be decided due to differences in the partyís state unit factions.

Following todayís decision, the Bhiwani seat will witness a battle of titans as Mr Ajay Singh Chautala, son of Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, and Mr Surinder Singh, son of Haryana Vikas Party leader and former Chief Minister Bansi Lal, too will try their luck from the same constituency. Mr Chautala had represented the constituency in the dissolved Lok Sabha. He had defeated Mr Surinder Singh by a huge margin.

Interestingly, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, an arch enemy of Mr Bhajan Lal, was opposed to the candidature of Mr Bishnoi and had wanted that the HPCC chief himself should contest. While Mr Bishnoiís candidature could be seen as a victory for Mr Bhajan Lal, the HPCC chief was reportedly keen that his son should contest from Faridabad and not from Bhiwani, even though the Bhiwani Lok Sabha seat included Mr Bhajan Lalís own assembly constituency of Adampur. Sources close to Mr Bhajan Lal, however, ruled out Mr Hooda playing a role in the choice of Mr Bishnoi for Bhiwani and said that he had himself decided to fight from the constituency.

The choice of Mr Dharampal Malik for Sonepat is also a victory for Mr Bhajan Lal as Mr Hooda wanted either Mr Jeetender Malik or Mr Sher Singh, both MLAs, for this seat.

The success of Ms Selja in getting the ticket for Ambala shows her own clout in the party. She moved away from her old constituency of Sirsa, fearing backstabbing by Bhajan Lal loyalists of Fatehabad district. Mr Hooda was the unanimous choice for the Rohtak seat since he has represented the constituency three times. However, he would have preferred to stay away from the Lok Sabha play a more active role in the state politics.

The candidature of Mr Atma Singh Gill from Sirsa is puzzling as his name had never figured in the list of Congress probables.

The names of Congress candidates for Hisar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Mahendragarh and Faridabad seats were likely to be announced next week, party sources said.

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