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Vidya Stokes files papers as Congress nominee from Theog

Soon after CM posts photos felicitating Vijay Pal on FB, Cong declares Deepak Rathore nominee but Stokes files papers as Cong nominee on Monday and Rathore as Independent

assembly elections Updated: Oct 23, 2017 18:54 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Vidya Stokes,Himachal elections,assembly elections
Congress candidate Vidya Stokes filing her nomination for Himachal Pradesh assembly elections at Theog in Shimla.(HT Photo)

It was a sweet moment that turned bitter for Vijay Pal Singh Khachi, the 56-year-old contender for the Congress ticket from Theog. A loyalist of outgoing Theog MLA Vidya Stokes, Khachi was assured the ticket and even landed up at chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s private residence, Holly Lodge, here on Sunday evening with laddoos and supporters in tow to express gratitude only to be told minutes later that he was out of the race.

It was a cruel joke for Vijay Pal when his supporters from Delhi informed him that the coveted ticket had gone to 43-year-old Deepak Rathore, a greenhorn handpicked by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

But by then Virbhadra Singh had posted pictures of Vijay Pal, a member of state consumer commission, on his official Facebook page. The chief minister congratulated him in a felicitation message and assured him full support.

Stokes, 89, had recommended Vijay Pal’s name along with that of Rajinder Verma after she announced her decision of opting out of the poll fray.

An embarrassed Vijay Pal told Stokes that he felt insulted.

A disappointed Stokes in turn spoke to the Congress high command and expressed her displeasure. At the eleventh hour on Monday, Stokes filed her nomination papers as the Congress candidate from Theog. Rathore also filed his papers but as an Independent. Now all eyes are on the scrutiny of the nomination papers that will start on Tuesday.

“We are disappointed with the way our leader was misinformed and denied the ticket at the last moment. This will cost the Congress dear in the election,” Chunni Lal, a supporter of Vijay Pal, said.

His father, JBL Khachi, was a minister in successive Congress governments. Barring 1977 and 1990, he won all elections after 1967. He was ranked among top leaders of Himachal Pradesh and won his first election from Theog in 1967 and contested the rest from Kumarsain assembly segment (now Theog). After Khachi’s death in 2002, his son Vijay Pal was seen as the party’s choice but Stokes shifted from Theog to Kumarsain constituency.

The last-minute jockeying for the Theog Congress ticket has not gone down well with the people of the constituency. After Stokes declared her decision to opt out and proposed Virbhadra’s name from Theog as his son Vikramaditya Singh is contesting from Shimla Rural, the chief minister filed his papers from Arki.

First Published: Oct 23, 2017 18:52 IST