Congress in a fix over five Uttarakhand LS seats

Congress.

Dehradun,  The Congress high command is faced with hurdles in finalising list of candidates for Uttarakhand Lok Sabha seats, which go to polls on April 11.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced candidates for all the five seats on Thursday.

The Congress has finalised three names, so far, which include state PCC President Pritam Singh from Tehri, Manish Khanduri from Pauri and Pradip Tamta from Almora. A formal announcement is awaited.

As there is suspense over candidature of party General Secretary Harish Rawat, the Congress central election committee could not decide party nominees for both Haridwar and Nainital seats.

According to sources, Rawat is keen on Nainital saet, even as the state party leadership wants him to contest from Haridwar. It has caused differences between the Rawat camp and the Pritam Singh Camp.

Rawat’s keenness for Nainital seat also stems from the fact that incumbent MP and senior BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshiyari has opted out of the race for the seat. Koshiyari (76), a former Chief Minister, wanted to give chance to a new face from Nainital, which was accepted by the BJP leadership.

BJP has announced candidature of state party chief Ajay Bhatt from Nainital.

If Rawat gets to contest Nainital seat, the Congress would face problems in finalising candidate for Haridwar. The party does not want to field local leaders from Haridwar, which includes Ambrish Kumar, an ex-MLA.

The BJP has fileded former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, a sitting MP, from Haridwar.

“The announcement for all the five seats could be made tomorrow (Friday),” said state Congress Vice-President S.K. Dhasmana.

Interestingly, Manish Khanduri who on Saturday joined the Congress during Rahul Gandhi’s election rally here could contest from Pauri, which is being represented by his father and former Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri.

Manish, if nominated, would face BJP national secretary and former state party chief Tirath Singh Rawat.

Pritam Singh would be facing incumbent MP Maharani Mala Rajlakshmi Shah of the BJP in the Tehri Lok Sabha seat.

In Almora, Pradip Tamta (Congress), a Rajya Sabha member, will be taking on Union Minister of State for Textile Ajay Tamta, a sitting MP.