Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, October 15
The process of filing of nomination papers for the November 9 Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections starts tomorrow, but both the Congress and the BJP are taking their time to announce the names for the 68 seats, fearing poaching and owing to lack of consensus.
The Congress has already received a jolt with the exit of Cabinet Minister Anil Sharma, while the BJP today chose to put off by another day the release of its list, as consensus eluded on half a dozen seats with new names cropping up. Sources also attributed a rethink following the Gurdaspur byelection loss.
Sources said the candidates shortlisted during the party survey did not match the list and counter-lobbying by aspirants forced the party to withhold the final list. BJP chief Amit Shah left for Gujarat after the meeting and the list is likely to be announced tomorrow, subject to finalisation of names for Dharamsala, Palampur, Jwalamukhi, Shimla Urban, Arki and Jhanduta seats.
The party is keen to field women candidates from at least five constituencies and the names of Indu Goswami and Asha Parihar are doing the rounds for Palampur and Arki. Insiders confided that some senior Congress leaders are in touch with the party and in case they join, they would have to be accommodated in the list.
Transport Minister GS Bali also reportedly met top BJP leaders, but he denied any move to join the BJP, terming it “wrong” news.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Revenue Minister Kaul Singh met today to discuss the situation in Mandi district following the exit of Anil Sharma. Virbhadra claimed some BJP leaders were in touch with the party and in case any other leader, including Bali, wanted to leave the party, he was free to do so. “We will win with a comfortable majority and are not unduly concerned as we had prior information about Sharma planning to quit,” he said.
The BJP is trying to play it safe by delaying the release of its list as it is apprehensive that those denied tickets might be fielded by the Congress.
Virbhadra had earlier said that sitting MLAs would not be denied tickets unnecessarily. Eight-time MLA Vidya Stokes has already announced to retire from electoral politics and offered her Theog seat to the CM.
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