Congress releases first slate of candidates and trusts the old guards

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Congress on Tuesday released its first list of 46 candidates for the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections scheduled for Nov. 12, mostly retaining its old guards.

Congress was supposed to announce its first slate on Oct. 16, but was delayed due to feuds between factions led by HPCC chairman Pratibha Singh and campaign committee chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.

The Congress had 20 lawmakers in the incumbent assembly and among them 18 are on the first slate, while the party allocated tickets to three women, including incumbent lawmaker Asha Kumari of Dalhousie, former BJP leader Dayal Pyari of Pacchad (SC) and Champa Thakur daughter of former State Congress Speaker Kaul Singh Thakur of Mandi.

Opposition leader Mukesh Agnihotri will face Haroli and Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu of Nadaun.

Among the sitting legislators, Congress lined up Sunder Singh Thakur from Kullu, Ashish Butail from Palampur, Sanjay Awasthi from Arki, Vikramaditya Singh from Shimla (rural), Nand Lal from Rampur (SC), Mohan Lal Brakta from Rohru (SC ), Satpal Raizada from Una, Ram Lal Thakur from Naina Devi Ji, Dhani Ram Shandil from Solan (SC), Vinay Kumar from Renukaji (SC), Anirudh Singh from Kasumpti, Harshwardhan Chauhan from Shillai, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal from Barsar, Rajinder Singh Rana from Sujanpur, Bhawani Singh Pathania from Fatehpur and Rohit Thakur from Jubbal-Kotkhai.

From the Banjar segment in the Kullu Congress, former BJP state chairman Khimi Ram has been nominated, while former HPCC chief Kuldeep Singh Rathour will compete with Theog.

Former MP Chaudhary Chander Kumar is said to be a candidate for Congress from Jawali, Sudhir Sharma from Dharamshala, Neeraj Nayyar from Chamba, Kuldeep Singh Pathania from Bhattiyat, Surinder Singh Mankotia from Jaswan-Pragpur, Sanjay Rattan from Jawalamukhi, Kewal Singh Pathania from Shahpur, Ravi Thakur from Lahaul-Spiti (ST), Sohan Lal Thakur from Sundernagar, Chetram Thakur from Seraj, Prakash Chaudhary from Balh and Suresh Kumar from Bhoranj.

The group picked up Rajesh Dharmani from Ghumarwin, Vivek Kumar from Jhandutta, Ram Kumar Chaudhary from Doon, Vinod Sultanpuri from Kasauli (SC), Ajay Solanki from Nahan and Rajneesh Kimta from Chopal.

AICC Secretary Raghubir Singh Bali is a Congress candidate from Nagrota Bagwan and Yashwant Singh Khanna is from Churah (SC).

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