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18 April, 2008

Hamirpur: tainted ex-MP may not get BJP ticket

Indian Express
SHIMLA, APRIL 17 After becoming chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal will face his first popularity test in the form of Hamirpur bypoll on May 22. "It's a great opportunity to re-establish our contact with the masses.The party is prepared for the Lok Sabha elections. Hamirpur bypoll could just be a semifinal," says Dhumal.
     However, two things are clear.The party is not inclined to field Suresh Chandel, its former MP who had won the seat in 2004 Parliamentary elections but was removed from the Lok Sabha membership due to his alleged involvement in the cash-for-query scam. He had been lobbying to re-enter the electoral fray.
     Then there is no chance of a sitting MLA or a Cabinet minister being fielded for the upcoming poll. That's because this seat has witnessed frequent byelections and the Assembly elections were also held recently. "It's not wise to impose a fresh Assembly election," says Satyapal Jain, BJP in-charge for HP.
     Insiders say Dhumal will have the final word in choosing the candidate, though the party's state unit is expected to draw up a penal and send it to the central election committee. Jain says Dhumal is flying to Delhi on Thursday for discussions with central leaders, and a decision on the candidate will be taken in a week's time. ...