NEW DELHI: The Congress is planning to fight collectively without relying much on the party high command in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. Without having high hopes for the presence of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to address the Assembly before the election, the party is simply relying on local Congress workers.
“I do not know whether our leader Rahul Gandhi will visit our state before the election or not. We have not decided on any representatives yet. That is for the high command to decide. We will fight on our own,” Pratibha Singh, HPCC Chief, told The Sunday Guardian.
The hill state has two segments—old and new. The old Himachal consists of Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, Mandi, Bilaspur, Chamba, and one tribal district of Kinnaur. The new Himachal includes Hamirpur, Una, Kangra, Kullu, and Lahaul-Spiti. “Initially, during the 1990s, Congress was influential in the older region of Himachal Pradesh; however, the situation is entirely different now. Currently, the Congress is concentrating on fighting the Assembly election on its own. Also, the presence of big leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will not bring more votes; there are no star campaigners like the former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh,” Prof Ramesh K, Chauhan, a political analyst, told this paper.
The party has lost a star campaigner after the demise of six-time CM Virbhadra Singh. At present, his wife, Pratibha Singh, HPCC chief, is one of the strong representatives in the party and is the sitting MLA from Mandi. His son, Vikramaditya Singh, will contest from the Shimla Rural seat.
The Congress has released the first list of 46 candidates that also includes names of key leaders like Mukesh Agnihotri and campaign panel head Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu who will be contesting from Haroli and Nadaun. Other candidates are Asha Kumari from Dalhousie, Khimi Ram from Banjar, Ajay Mahajan from Nurpur (Kangra), Ashish Butail from Palampur, Yashwant Singh Khanna from Churah (SC), Kuldip Singh Pathania from Bhattiyat and so on. However, the first list doesn’t include the name of HPCC chief Pratibha Singh.
The 68 Assembly seats will be up for election on 12 November; and the results will be counted on 8 December. The BJP presently has 43 members in the Assembly, followed by the Congress with 22. In the Assembly, there are two Independents and one CPM MLA.
On 17 October, a notification of the state elections was released, and on 25 October, nominations will be submitted. On 27 October, papers will be scrutinised, and 29 October will be the final day to withdraw papers. There is also a possibility for defection from BJP as the party has denied tickets to some of its MLAs.