The people of Himachal Pradesh will cast their votes on Thursday to elect the new Assembly in the state. The state has always witnessed a bipolar contest between the two national parties – the Congress and the BJP. The 2017 Assembly elections are no different as the contest is primarily between these two parties in all 68 Assembly constituencies.
The BJP has declared Prem Kumar Dhumar, two-time CM, as its chief ministerial candidate in these elections. On the other hand, the Congress has said that its incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will be its CM candidate once again.
While Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will be contesting elections from Arki constituency, his son Vikramaditya Singh will be trying his luck from Shimla Rural constituency. Virbhadra has changed his constituency from Shimla rural to Arki . Similarly, BJP’s CM candidate Dhumal has changed his constituency from Hamirpur to Sujanpur. Anil Sharma, son of former union minister Sukh Ram who recently joined the BJP, has been given the party ticket from Mandi constituency.
Here are 10 key candidates who are trying their luck in November 9 Assembly elections:
1. Virbhadra Singh (Congress) – The veteran Congress leader is serving as Himachal Chief Minister for the sixth-term. He is popularly known as “Raja Sahib” in the state. He has changed his constituency from Shimla rural to Arki this time. His son Vikramaditya Singh has been given ticket from Shimla rural. He is being probed by CBI and ED in connection with the alleged money-laundering and Disproportionate Assets (DA) cases and the opposition BJP made it a big election issue during the campaign.
2. Vikramaditya Singh (Congress) – Vikramaditya is the son of the incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and he will be making his debut in Assembly elections from the prestigious Shimla rural constituency which was the traditional seat of his father. Interestingly, the Congress relaxed its "one family, one ticket" formula in case of Vikramaditya Singh and Champa Thakur.
3. Champa Thakur (Congress) – Champa is the daughter of Kaul Singh Thakur, a minister in Virbhadra Singh cabinet. She will be contesting Assembly elections from the prestigious Mandi Assembly constituency. The Congress relaxed its "one family, one ticket" formula in her case as well.
4. Kaul Singh Thakur (Congress) – Kaul Singh is Health and Family Welfare Minister in Virbhadra Singh cabinet. He has additional charge of the crucial Revenue, Law and Legal Remembrance as well as Medical Education ministries. He will be contesting elections from Darang Assembly constituency.
5. GS Bali (Congress) – Bali is the minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs in Virbhadra Singh cabinet. He is a heavy weight minister as he has additional charge of Transport, Technical Education, Vocational and Industrial Training ministries as well. He is contesting Assembly elections from Nagrota Assembly constituency.
6. Prem Kumar Dhumal (BJP)- The BJP has named Dhumal as its chief ministerial candidate. He was Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh from March 1998 to March 2003 and again from 1 January 2008 to 25 December 2012. The two-term chief minister has changed his constituency from Hamirpur to Sujanpur this time.
7. Satpal Singh Satti (BJP)- Satpal Singh is the president of the Himachal unit of the BJP. A three-term MLA, he is contesting from Una Assembly constituency in these elections.
8. Anil Sharma(BJP) – He is the son of the former Congress leader Sukh Ram. Anil Sharma was a minister in the Virbhadra Singh government. However, he along with his father switched over to the BJP last month, just ahead of the Assembly elections. Anil Sharma will be contesting from Mandi constituency in these elections.
9. Narendra Thakur(BJP)- Narendra had quit the BJP in 2003 and fought assembly elections against Prem Kumar Dhumal in 2009. He also fought Lok Sabha elections from Hamirpur against Anurag Thakur. However, he joined the BJP few days before Assembly elections and the BJP has fielded him from Hamirpur constituency.
10. Narinder Bragta(BJP)- 65-year-old Bragta is the BJP candidate from Jubbal-kotkhai Assembly constituency. He had lost to Congress party's Rohit Thakur by 9095 votes in 2012 assembly elections. Bragta had defeated defeated Thakur by 2824 votes in 2007 Assembly elections.