Congress announces Pratibha Singh as its candidate for Mandi by-poll

Shimla/ May 28
The Congress party on Tuesday formally announced former MP and chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh as party candidate for Mandi Loksabha by-poll slated for June 23.
Her name was cleared by Congress President Sonia Gandhi based on recommendation by the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC).
The Mandi Loksabha seat had fallen vacant after Virbhadra Singh won the assembly poll and took oath as the Himachal Pradesh chief minister for sixth time in December last.
The BJP has fielded a senior leader, four times MLA in a row from Seraj (earlier named Chachiot) in Mandi district Jai Ram Thakur as its candidate. Jai Ram was initially unwilling to contest the Loksabha poll, saying that he had recently won assembly poll. But, party sources said, he is still the best bet for the opposition party, for he is clean image, sober with base at the grassroots. The low profile BJP leader has rapport with party cadres having remained party president in HP earlier.
Pratibha Singh’s name was doing the rounds for Congress candidature for Mandi by-poll after Virbhadra Singh vacated it after becoming chief minister for the sixth time.
With Virbhadra switching to Parliament politics in 2009, his wife Pratibha Singh (sitting MP from Mandi then) had then unsuccessfully attempted to get ticket for by-poll to Rohru assembly constituency vacated by him.
Himachal Pradesh Police has declared 123 polling stations hypersensitive in the Mandi parliamentary seat for the June 23 by-poll. Out of 1,921 polling booths, 256 have been treated sensitive, a Police release said.
Director General B Kamal Kumar held a meeting here of police officials of Chamba, Mandi, Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur and Shimla, the districts fall in the constituency, to make arrangements for the poll. Mandi covers parts of five districts of Mandi, Kullu, Lahaul Spiti, Chamba and Kinnaur. The Parliamentary constituency has 11,24,770 voters out which 5,66,946 are male and 5,46,140 are female voters.