Congress set to field Pratibha from Mandi

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4

The Congress is likely to field Pratibha Singh, former MP and wife of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, as its candidate for the Mandi Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled for October 30.

Though a formal announcement is still awaited, the Congress seems to have cleared the names for the Mandi Lok Sabha seat as well as three Assembly segments of Arki, Jubbal-Kotkhai and Fatehpur.

Cong 'choice'

  • In Jubbal-Kotkhai, the Congress is likely to field Rohit Thakur
  • In Arki, its choice is Sanjay Awasthy
  • In Fatehpur, the party has decided to field Bhawani Singh Pathania

BJP 'nominees'

  • In Jubbal-Kotkhai, Chetan Bragta's candidature is almost certain
  • In Fatehpur, the party is likely to give ticket to Baldev Thakur
  • In Arki, the BJP is all set to repeat Ratan Pal Singh

The BJP too is yet to make a formal announcement of the names of the candidates for the byelections, but the party seems to have made up its mind. There is, however, a dilemma on the candidature for the the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, which BJP's Ram Swaroop had won by almost four lakh votes.

The Congress probable candidates have been told to keep their nomination papers ready and file these preferably on October 7. Pratibha is likely to file her nomination on October 8.

Pratibha, who has won twice from the Mandi parliamentary seat, was keen to contest the election and had expressed her desire to the high command. Ashraya Sharma, grandson of former Telecommunication Minister Sukh Ram, who was the Congress nominee in the 2019 parliamentary poll, was also in the race for the ticket.

The party felt that Pratibha is a far more formidable candidate as compared to Ashray. As far as Jubbal-Kotkhai goes, the Congress is likely to field Rohit Thakur while in Arki, the choice is Sanjay Awasthy. In Fatehpur, the party has chosen to field Bhawani Singh Pathania, son of Sujan Singh Pathania as was being expected.

The BJP is, however, still contemplating its candidate for Mandi. There are indications that the party is against fielding a sitting minister or MLA and the names of former MP and scion of Kullu royal family Maheshwar Singh and Pankaj Jamwal, an office-bearer from Jogindernagar, are under consideration.

Jamwal has strong RSS connections and is backed by the Sangh whereas Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur is backing the candidature of Maheshwar.

As far as the Assembly tickets are concerned, the BJP is almost certain to field Chetan Bragta, son of former minister Narinder Bragta, to cash in on the sympathy factor from Jubbal-Kotkhai. In Fatehpur, the party, in all probability, will field Baldev Thakur as former MP Kripal Parmar faces the outsider tag, which could mar the BJP's victory chances.

In Arki, the BJP is all set to repeat the candidature of Ratan Pal Singh over Govind Ram, who was denied the ticket in the 2017 Assembly elections despite being a sitting MLA.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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