Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections, Key candidates: In the high-octane electoral contest mainly between the Congress and the BJP, the voters exercised their franchise on November 12. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is contesting from the Seraj Assembly constituency, while Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri is the Congress candidate from the Haroli constituency. Buoyed by its solitary win in the 2017 elections, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has decided to contest from 11 seats this time. The party has nominated sitting MLA Rakesh Singha as the party candidate from the Theog constituency.
Here are key constituencies to watch out for:
1.Seraj: Jairam Thakur, BJP
The constituency of incumbent Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, the Seraj Assembly seat has been a BJP stronghold with Thakur retaining it in each election after winning the seat for the first time in 1998. The Congress has fielded Chet Ram Thakur, who lost to the CM by 11,254 votes in the 2017 Assembly elections, as its candidate.
2.Haroli: Mukesh Agnihotri, Congress
Leader of opposition and former journalist Mukesh Agnihotri has been winning the constituency since 2003, and is seen as one of the chief ministerial candidates for the Congress. The BJP has pitted state spokesperson Ram Kumar against him, who lost to Agnihotri in the earlier elections.
3.Nadaun: Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, Congress
Congress election campaign in-charge and its former state unit chief has been re-nominated from the constituency, which he won in 2003 and 2007. He is also seen as one of the CM contenders in the state. The BJP has nominated Vijay Agnihotri, who beat Sukhu in 2017, but lost to him in 2017.
The Nadaun constituency in Hamirpur district is crucial for the BJP as it is the home district of former BJP CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and Dhumal’s son and Union minister Anurag Thakur. Union home minister Amit Shah addressed a rally for its party candidate for the November 12 polls.
4.Shimla Rural: Vikramaditya Singh, Congress
Vikramaditya Singh, son of late six-time Congress CM Virbhadra Singh, is seeking a second term from the constituency. The BJP has fielded Ravi Mehta from the seat.
5.Darang: Kaul Singh Thakur, Congress
An eight-time MLA, Thakur has won consistently from Mandi’s Darang constituency for nearly five decades – losing only in 1977 and the 2017 Himachal elections. The BJP has fielded Puran Chand Thakur.
6.Theog: Rakesh Singha, CPI-M
In the 2017 Himachal Assembly elections, the Communist party of India (Marxist) won on account of the Congress infighting on the seat, helping the CPI(M)’s Rakesh Singha scrape through. This time, Ajay Shyam is the BJP candidate and the Congress has nominated Kuldeep Singh Rathore, who is contesting for the first time, while Singha remains the CPI(M) candidate.
7.Shahpur: Sarveen Chaudhary, BJP
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Sarveen Chaudhary has been re-nominated by the BJP from Kangra’s Shahpur. The Congress has given the ticket to Kewal Singh Pathania, who came third in 2017.
8.Paonta Sahib: Sukh Ram Chaudhary, BJP
Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary won this seat last and has been re-nominated by the BJP. The Congress has given a ticket to Kirnesh Jung, who lost to Chaudhary in 2017 but won Paonta Sahib as an Independent in 2012. Sukh Ram had bagged the seat in 2003 and 2007.
9.Jaswan-Pragpur: Bikram Singh, BJP
The BJP has fielded Bikram Singh, who is also Industries Minister for the 2022 Himachal Pradesh polls. He had defeated Congress’ Surinder Singh Mankotia by a narrow margin of 1,862 votes. The Congress has fielded Mankotia from the constituency again.
10.Kasauli: Rajiv Saizal, BJP
A three-time MLA from Kasauli, Saizal is the Minister for Family Welfare, Health and Ayurveda and is the BJP’s candidate from the constituency. He will face Vinod Sultanpuri of Congress whom he had defeated the last two times.