Dharamsala, September 23
Several Congress leaders from Kangra reportedly met party in-charge for Himachal Rajiv Shukla in New Delhi yesterday. They expressed their concerns to Shukla, ahead of the screening committee meeting scheduled for September 27.
Sudhir Sharma, AICC secretary, said today that party leaders from Kangra met Shukla and discussed issues related to the forthcoming Assembly elections. “The party is in a strong position and will form government in Himachal,” he added.
The HPCC has said that all 20 MLAs and three AICC secretaries will be given ticket to fight elections. Till now, the candidates for only four seats in Kangra have been finalised — AICC secretaries Sudhir Sharma (Dharamsala) and RS Bali (Nagrota Bagwan) and MLAs Ashish Butail (Palampur) and Bhawani Pathania (Fatehpur). For all other seats, panels of candidates have been sent to the party central leadership.
This uncertainty over ticket has made many senior Congress leaders of Kangra restive. The party has not yet declared candidate from the Nurpur seat, which district Congress president Ajay Mahajan has represented in the past. HPCC general secretary Kewal Singh Pathania (Shahpur), former MLA Sanjay Rattan (Jwalamukhi), former MLA Yadwinder Singh Goma (Jaisinghpur), former Kangra MP Chander Kumar (Jawali) and Jagjivan Pal (Sullah) are also upset as their names were not included in the list of candidates in the first meeting of the screening committee.
The sources say that the Congress has not announced candidates from some seats as it is expecting some BJP leaders, including former BJP minister Ravinder Ravi and former Nurpur block president Ranvir Nikka, to switch sides. If Ravinder Ravi joins the Congress, he may contest from Sullah. He is already campaigning in the constituency.
If Ranvir Nikka joins the Congress, he may stake his claim to the ticket from the Nurpur Assembly constituency. Former minister late Sat Mahajan had represented Nurpur in the Assembly. His son Ajay Mahajan had been Nurpur MLA from 2012 to 2017. The Mahajan family had represented Nurpur in the Assembly on the Congress ticket for the past more than three decades and it would not be easy for the party to ignore it’s claim and give ticket to Nikka.
Kangra MLA Pawan Kajal has already joined the BJP. The Congress is now considering the names of former MLA Surinder Kaku and a few other OBC leaders from the Kangra seat.
Former MLA in race
- In Jwalamukhi, Nardev Kanwar, former Dehra organisational district chief, has staked his claim to ticket
- He is a loyalist of senior Congress leader Sukhwinder Sukhu
- Besides Kanwar, former MLA Sanjay Rattan has sought ticket from the constituency
- Rattan was a loyalist of f ex-CM Virbhadra Singh and enjoys the support of HPCC president Pratibha Singh
Mankotia Vs Pathania
- In Shahpur, the Congress is considering the names of former minister Vijai Singh Mankotia and HPCC general secretary Kewal Pathania
- Pathania had unsuccessfully fought the last two Assembly elections on the Congress ticket from Shahpur
- Mankotia contested the 2012 and 2017 elections as an Independent candidate, leading to Pathania’s defeat
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