Anil Sharma, son of former union telecom minister Sukhram, who quit the Congress as a minister early this week, is the BJP candidate from Mandi. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will contest Assembly polls from Arki Assembly seat. Both Dhumal and Singh are Thakurs and this could have been a reason for the BJP giving prominence to the former chief minister in this election.
The list was finalised after a marathon meeting of the Congress central election committee chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress on Wednesday released its first list of candidates for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections 2017 scheduled to be held on November 9.
The other leaders who have been given tickets and have also contested last elections include Ajay Mahajan, Kuldip Singh Pathania, Vinod Sultanpuri, Rajesh Dharmani, Harshvardhan Chauhan and Harbhajan Singh Bhajji.
Going by the list, Dhumal seems to be having an upper hand though the party has tried to give Union Health Minister J P Nadda due importance, besides accommodating some staunch loyalists of Shanta Kumar.
The chief minister's son, Vikramaditya Singh, is a strong contender for the Shimla (rural) seat.
The party has fielded six women this time, one less than the 2012 polls. CM's wife Pratibha Singh's sister-in-law Vijay Jyoti Sen is the BJP candidate from Kasumpati in Shimla town. Congress MLA Rajinder Rana has been fielded from Sujanpur. Being a senior leader, party insiders claim that he has been included in the list ruling out possibility of any confusion about who will be the party's chief ministerial candidate. Ten Independent candidates filed their nominations on Tuesday from various constituencies, as did Vishwanath Sharma of the CPI (M) from Nahan constituency in Sirmaur. His bete noire and state unit chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu has been fielded from Nadaun.