In a bid to shore up its electoral fortunes, the Congress may break its tradition of not allowing a sitting member of parliament (MP) to contest an assembly election.
Former Union minister and Himachal Pradesh Congress president Virbhadra Singh, who represents Mandi Lok Sabha constituency, is all set to contest from Shimla rural assembly segment in the November 4 state elections.
The central leadership has made it clear if Singh wants to contest the assembly polls, the party has no objection.
This would be a major departure from the tradition followed by the Congress in the recent past of not allowing its sitting MPs to contest state elections.
In the assembly elections held in Uttarakhand, Vijay Bahuguna, who was then a Lok Sabha MP from Tehri-Garhwal, and Hardwar MP Harish Rawat were not allowed to contest the state polls. Bahuguna later went on to become the Uttarakhand chief minister.
After a few months, he resigned from the parliamentary seat and got elected from Garhwal assembly constituency in a bypoll.
Similarly, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, then an MP from Rohtak, did not contest the state elections in 2005 but was made the chief minister by the Congress and entered the assembly through a by-election.
Also, Shankar Singh Vaghela was denied permission to contest the 2007 Gujarat assembly elections as he was then a sitting MP from Kapadvanj Lok Sabha constituency. Virbhadra, a five-time chief minister, is likely to enter the fray from Shimla rural, a new constituency which came into existence after the de-limitation exercise. The change of constituency follows his traditional Rohru seat now being reserved for the Scheduled Caste category.
He had represented it five times in succession since 1990.
Sources said though the party would not project anybody as its chief ministerial candidate, 78-year-old Singh, the tallest Congress leader in the state, will be its face in the polls.
Political observers say the veteran leader would be the party’s natural choice for the CM’s post.