THE battle to follow in the footsteps of Andover MP Sir George Young is hotting up – with more than 100 people bidding to be the next Conservative candidate.

The process of selecting a replacement for Sir George, who has represented North West Hampshire since 1997, got under way in earnest this week as the Tory nominations closed on Tuesday.

As previously reported by the Advertiser, among those who have been rumoured to be interested in what is considered to be a safe Conserv-ative seat – Sir George won with a majority of 18,583 at the 2010 election – is London Mayor Boris Johnson.

One man who has this week set out his stall to be the Tory candidate in next year’s General Election, when Sir George will be standing down, is Amandeep Singh Bhogal. If he is successful in becoming the candidate, and wins the election, Mr Bhogal believes it would be a world first as he said he would be the first practising Sikh elected to a national parliament in any major country outside the Indian sub-continent.

North West Hampshire constituency chairman Rod Bowker told the Advertiser that more than 100 people have applied to be the Conservative candidate.

He said: “As you would expect, the quality of candidate application has been very high.”

Other parties are about to select their candidates.

The Lib Dems, were in second place last time, and executive chairman Martin Baker, said: “The selection process is now under way but we are still accepting applications and no decisions have been made.”

Labour’s Alan Cotter said: “We are just about to start the process and are inviting applications – we hope to name the candidate by the end of July.”