The Congress on Saturday named former athlete and five-time legislator Ram Lal Thakur to take on BJP's three-time MP and former BCCI chief Anurag Thakur in Hamirpur of Himachal Pradesh.
The Congress has already announced candidates for the three other Lok Sabha seats in the state that will go to the polls on May 19.
Sitting MLA from the Naina Devi constituency, 67-year-old Thakur of the Congress could prove a political heavyweight against BJP's Anurag Thakur, believe political observers.
Earlier, the Congress was considering to field three-time ex-BJP MP Suresh Chandel who was caught in a sting operation in the 2005 when he represented Hamirpur in the Lok Sabha.
But Chandel's entry into the Congress was denied by party chief Rahul Gandhi to avoid sending out the signal that it "is banking on BJP rebels", a senior Congress leader told IANS.
Earlier, former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram's family members joined the Congress after quitting the BJP.
Ashray Sharma, son of Anil Sharma, a cabinet minister in the BJP state government, and Sukh Ram's grandson, is the Congress candidate from the Mandi parliamentary seat.
The Hamirpur constituency, which the Congress has won only once in past 30 years, has been witnessing more aggressive campaign compared with three others -- Shimla (reserved), Kangra and Mandi.
Ram Lal Thakur served as cabinet minister in the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government and represented the state in kabaddi six times at the national level and was its captain thrice.
Contrary to him, Anurag Thakur, 44, who once headed the BJYM, the BJP youth wing, is among the saffron party's most flamboyant MPs. He had a fast & furious but short-lived innings with the Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI).
Since his victory in the May 2008 parliamentary by-election, Anurag Thakur, re-elected as the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association President in 2016 for the fourth straight time since 2000, has been targeted by rivals for being too high-profile and jet-setting, said a political analyst.
His discretionary fund use was 93.05 per cent. He has allocated Rs 24.73 crore, while the unspent balance with the district authorities is Rs 4.96 crore.
Foundation stones of the 750-bed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the 300-bed PGI satellite centre and the rail expansion figure as major milestone in Anurag Thakur's achievement list.
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