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Congress picks royal scion to take on Kangana Ranaut in Mandi



Congress picks royal scion to take on Kangana Ranaut in Mandi

Vikramaditya to contest Kangana in Mandi. Congress reveals 16 candidates. Internal disputes delay Haryana, Punjab, Delhi lists. Channi, Bittu, Kaur considered. Tewari shifts to Chandigarh. Sultanpuri, Dhanani nominated. Odisha, Gujarat candidates announced.

NEW DELHI: Royal scion and Himachal Pradesh minister Vikramaditya Singh will take on BJP’s Bollywood star turned politician Kangana Ranaut in Mandi, turning the tiny hill state constituency into one of the keen contests of the 2024 elections. Also, MP Manish Tewari will contest from Chandigarh, shifting from his seat of Anandpur Sahib in Punjab.

Congress announced the two names as part of a list of 16 candidates on Saturday evening after marathon meetings of the election committee.

MLA Vinod Sultanpuri will fight from Shimla reserved seat in HP, and former leader of opposition in Gujarat, Paresh Dhanani, will contest from Rajkot in Gujarat. The party announced nine candidates for Odisha and four for Gujarat.

Interestingly, Congress did not announce any names for Haryana and Punjab for which the CEC met, and Delhi which was discussed in an informal meeting. Sources said seven of the 13 seats for Punjab were cleared while discussions on nine Haryana seats were also completed. Sources said differences between leader of opposition Bhupinder Hooda and others, which flared up again Saturday, will be resolved by a sub-committee in a quick follow up, and a list for Haryana, Punjab and Delhi is expected soon.

Vikramaditya has been holding the fort since Kangana started campaigning, questioning her role in the development of Himachal and her absence during the recent devastating floods in the state.

Though Congress has been troubled by the recent rebellion in Himachal unit which has cast a shadow over the Sukhu govt, with party affairs complicated further by the schism between Pratibha Singh and Sukhu, the party has come together in the LS polls to defend its fort. The sitting MP Pratibha was touted as the possible candidate from Mandi, but sources said internal surveys put son Vikramaditya as the best choice to take on Kangana.

Sources said Congress cleared names for Bathinda, Sangrur, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Hoshiarpur and Amritsar in Punjab. Congress won seven of 13 seats in 2019, but since then Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur have joined BJP, while the party lost Jalandhar in a bypoll. It is to be seen if all the remaining sitting MPs are repeated. While Congress has been considering former CM Charanjeet Channi for Jalandhar, late Chaudhary’s MLA son has raised a red flag on Channi’s candidature.

In Haryana, Congress is considering Raj Babbar and senior MLA Rao Dan Singh from Gurgaon, and two candidates from Jat and Gujjar community from Faridabad. Kumari Selja is likely from Sirsa, while Deepender Hooda will fight from Rohtak.

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