NEW DELHI: Vikramaditya Singh, the son of Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, and two other progenies of senior party leaders have been given party tickets to contest in the State Assembly elections, announced the Congress on Sunday — the penultimate day for filing nominations.
Sources said that Vikramaditya, who has been given the much-coveted Shimla (rural) seat, had gone to Delhi on Saturday to lobby for the decision. In fact, Vikramaditya had been touring the constituency for the last three months. Virbhadra Singh, his father and the current MLA from Shimla (rural) is now contesting from Arki. He has already filed his nomination papers.
The party has also given the Mandi ticket to Champa Thakur, the daughter of senior Congress leader Kaul Singh Thakur. She filed her nomination papers on Saturday from Mandi and is slated to contest former minister and Sukh Ram's son Anil Sharma who recently quit Congress to join the BJP. Meanwhile, her father Kaul Singh had already filed his nomination from Drang — his own constituency.
Similarly, Ashish Butail has been given ticket from Palampur, in place of his father, the State Assembly speaker B B L Butail. He is pitched against Indu Goswami of BJP, the state Mahila Morcha chief.
The decision comes as a surprise as Congress, until now, has been a strict follower of the 'one family, one ticket' policy — wherein two people from a family are not allowed to contest elections. In fact, the Congress had initially dithered over announcing the candidatures of Vikramaditya Singh and Champa Thakur, but gave in to pressure at the last minute, party sources said.
Earlier in the day, the party released its second list of seven candidates, withholding the names of its nominees for just two seats -- Shimla Rural and Mandi.
About an hour later, the party, however, cleared the nominations of Vikramaditya Singh and Champa Thakur.
Virbhadra Singh had earlier publicly declared that his son would contest from his seat. The chief minister has moved to the Arki Assembly seat in Solan district and the party has declared his candidature from there.
The nomination lists also include the names of Kewal Sharma from Shahpur, Deepak Rathore from Theog, Hari Chand Sharma from Manali, Vivek Sharma from Kotlehar, Surinder Thakur from Kullu and Lakhwinder Rana from Nalagarh. Meanwhile, Bansi Lal, who was named in the first list, in Anni (SC) seat has been replaced with Paras Ram.
In the second list of candidates, the Congress fielded Kewal Singh Pathania from Shahpur and Ashish Butail from Palampur, currently held by outgoing Speaker Brij Bihari Lal Butail, who did not want to contest this time. Ashish Butail is the son of the outgoing Speaker.
The Congress fielded Deepak Rathore from the Theog Assembly constituency, earlier represented by state minister Vidya Stokes.
Hari Chand Sharma has been declared as the party candidate from Manali, while Surinder Thakur will be the Congress nominee from Kullu.
The Congress fielded Vivek Sharma from Kutlehar, while Lakhwinder Rana has been fielded from Nalagarh.
In addition, the party replaced its candidate from Anni.
The single-phase election for the 68 Assembly seats will be held on November 9, while the counting will take place on December 18.
Tomorrow is the last day for filing of nominations for the election to the 68-member Assembly. The Congress had on October 18 announced its first list of 59 candidates.
With this, they have now announced candidates for all the 68 Assembly seats
Paras Ram will contest from the seat in place of Bansi Lal, whose name was declared in the first list.
The Assembly poll results will be declared on December 18.
(With PTI inputs)