Mandi: Vikramaditya to fight Kangana Ranaut

The Asian Age.

India, Politics

The Congress on Saturday also announced a list of 15 more candidates for the ensuing Lok Sabha polls

Himachal Pradesh Congress President Pratibha Singh along with her son and HP minister Vikramaditya Singh meets Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. (PTI File)

New Delhi: The contest for the Mandi Lok Sabha seat in Himachal Pradesh promises to be more intense, with the Congress pitting state minister Vikramaditya Singh to take on BJP’s Kangana Ranaut. Besides Mr Singh, the Congress on Saturday also announced a list of 15 more candidates for the ensuing Lok Sabha polls.

The Mandi seat is a matter of prestige, as Mr Singh is a sitting MLA and the son of the late Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and state unit chief Pratibha Singh.

"We discussed the names that we had shortlisted. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were also present at the meeting. Some names are final and some names will be discussed again. From Mandi, Vikramaditya Singh's name has been made final as everyone was in favour of a young face from Mandi,” the Congress Himachal Pradesh unit chief said.

Mr Singh became the titular kind of the erstwhile princely state of Bushahr (a town in Shimla) after his father's death. He holds a master's degree in history from Delhi's St Stephen's College. He was the only Congress MLA who attended the Ram temple inauguration ceremony in Ayodhya, defying the party line.

In February, Mr Singh had announced his resignation. Speculation was rife that he was going to join the BJP along with a few rebel MLAs, a move that could have brought down the Congress government in the hill state. The infighting ensued soon after the Congress lost the Rajya Sabha elections owing to cross-voting. The crisis was managed with the intervention of the top leadership. Mr Singh withdrew his resignation and stayed with the party.

The Congress' on Saturday nominated former Union minister and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari from Chandigarh. The seat was earlier held for two terms by BjP MP and actor Kirron Kher. Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Pawan Bansal, the unsuccessful Congress candidate from Chandigarh, is now replaced by Mr Tewari.

The party has fielded Paresh Dhanai to take on Union minister Purushottam Rupala from Rajkot.

The Congress central election committee (CEC) met in the national capital on Saturday under the leadership of Mr Kharge. It finalised the names of a few Lok Sabha candidates from Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Chandigarh.

The CEC meeting for Himachal Pradesh was attended by Mr Kharge, Mrs Gandhi, and AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal.

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri, Ms Singh and AICC in-charge Rajeev Shukla were the others present in the meeting.

The Haryana CEC was attended, besides the top party leaders, by PCC chief Uday Bhan, ex-CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Randeep Surjewala and Kumari Selja.

Insiders claim three seats in Haryana have also been finalised but not declared yet. These include Deependra Singh Hooda from Rohtak, Ms Selja from Sirsa and Varun Molana from Ambala.