Dhumal retains MLA flock in BJP’s first list

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal may have managed to retain his existing flock of sitting MLAs in BJP's first list of candidates for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, but 'Mission Repeat 2012' is likely to rest largely on the second list that is going to be finalised early next month.

On Friday, the BJP's national parliamentary board cleared 45 names. Barring four new faces including a serving IAS officer (Rampur) — the list is overwhelmingly dominated by sitting MLAs.

Despite facing public ire because of non-performance or controversies, sitting MLAs will be contesting the polls as the party has failed to replace them with better options - atleast based on the field surveys. Dhumal had hinted of replacing 25 to 30 per cent of MLAs to bring in new faces, but this has not happened in the first list.

The real tussle for tickets, however, remains under wraps in constituencies having strong contenders and being loyalist of either Dhumal or Shanta Kumar.

In Solan - a district identified largely with former health minister Rajeev Bindal and his controversies - the issue of private universities opened here and cases of land sales to outsiders are already on the Congress radar. Bindal, as expected, has been moved to Nahan in Sirmaur district with Dhumal backing.

Only seven names including two sitting ministers - Krishan Kapoor (Dharamshala) and Sraveen Chaudhry - have been cleared in Kangra while the fate of IPH minister Ravinder Ravi, a Dhumal loyalist whose constituency (Thural) was scrapped by the Delimitation Commission, still hangs in the balance with Shanta Kumar scuttling his plans to contest from Jawalamukhi - the constituency of Food and Supplies minister Ramesh Dhawala. Ravi and Dhawala do not see eye-to-eye due to camp rivalry and the former is not ready to sacrifice his seat.

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