BJP releases list of 68 candidates for Himachal polls

BJP president Amit Shah with Union health minister JP Nadda senior leaders Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal and Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti at the party’s “Yuva Hunkar Rally” at Kangra near Dharamsala

The BJP is hopeful of getting a majority due to what it perceives to be an anti-incumbency sentiment against the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government.

Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal will contest from Sujanpur. There was a cloud over him leading the contest, but Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi declared at a rally in Mandi that Singh would be the CM candidate. While the polling will be held on November 09, counting of votes will be done on December 18.

Former two-time Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal will contest from a new seat Sujanpur while state BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti will re-contest from Una, according to the BJP's list of candidates. BJP released its final list of candidates for all the 68 seats in the state on Wednesday. Dhumal has swapped his present Hamirpur seat with party MLA Narendra Thakur, who will now be the party candidate from the seat. The list also includes the name of veteran Congress leader Sukh Ram's son Anil Sharma, who recently quit Congress and joined BJP.

Arki is now represented by BJP MLA Govind Ram Sharma. If the Congress wins, it would be his seventh term as the chief minister.

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BJP has fielded Rakesh Verma, the son of former top cop of Himachal Pradesh and chairman of HP Public Service Commission, R R Verma which Singh had close personal and family relations.

The Congress has chosen to field most of the sitting legislators. This is because Union minister and Rajya Sabha MP J.P. Nadda, Dhumal's potential rival for the CM's chair, does not even feature on the list of candidates.

The filing of nomination is scheduled to begin on October 16 and conclude on October 23.

Vijay Jyoti Sen, sister-in-law of CM Virbhadra Singh's wife Pratibha, and former Congress leader Pawan Nayyar have been fielded from Kusumpti and Champa, respectively. Congress will be announcing the official list at the earliest.