With its efforts to field actress Preity Zinta from Hamirpur Lok Sabha constituency coming a cropper, Congress said on Sunday that the name of former cricketer Madan Lal is under consideration for the presitigious seat to take on Bharatiya Janata Party's Anurag Thakur, son of Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
"Yes, Madan Lal's name is under active consideration of the party along with that of Narinder Thakur and Sunil Sharma Bittu, who is Hamirpur district president of the party, for the Hamirpur seat," leader of the opposition and a member of screening committee from the state Vidya Stokes told PTI.
She said the name of Madan Lal was proposed by the central leaders during a meeting of screening committee in Delhi last Friday. Stokes, a close aide of Sonia Gandhi, said she had proposed the name of Preity Zinta, a native of Rohroo in Shimla, for Hamirpur seat and talks were also held with her family as the actress was in New Zealand at that time. "But, it did not materialise," she added.
Madan Lal, whose family belongs to Adhri village in Hamirpur district, said he was prepared for an innings in politics if the Congress decides to field him against Thakur, who is also President of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association. "Yes, I am prepared to plunge into politics and fight election from Hamirpur," Madan Lal, a member of 1983 World Cup winning team, told PTI over phone from Delhi.
Madan Lal is, however, facing competition from Narinder Thakur, son of former BJP minister and party stalwart late Jagdeo Chand. Thakur recently switched over to Congress and is backed by state Congress president Kaul Singh Thakur for the seat.
Out of the four LS seats in Himachal, Congress has finalised candidates for three seats though an official announcement is awaited. But no decision has been taken on Hamirpur seat. The finalised names include five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh from Mandi.
The decision on Hamirpur has been left on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party sources said here. With Zinta out of contention, the name of Madan Lal, who is son-in-law of owner of liquor manufacturer Mohan Meakings having plant at Solan in HP, was suggested. State Congress spokesman Kuldeep Rathore said the party is interested in fielding a Brahmin and a famous name to take on the CM's son and Madan Lal fits the bill. Lal, who shared the new ball with legendary Kapil Dev
for long, said his family stays in the native village and he himself keeps going to Adhri.
He said to earn livelihood his father had to move to Amritsar. "But we are a Himachali family," he added. Meanwhile, sources in Congress said that the high command is dispatching an observer to Hamirpur to gather inputs to help Gandhi make final decision on the candidate.