As chaos mar Congress , octogenarians Virbhadra, Stokes display bonhomie
The veterans’ unusual display of bonhomie comes a day the ruling party received a major jolt from its rural development minister Anil Sharma, who along with his father and Congress vanguard leader Sukhram switched over to the BJP’s side.Updated: Oct 15, 2017 22:26 IST
Amid uncertainty and factional fights in the grand old party, octogenarian leaders chief minister Virbhadra Singh, 84, and irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes, 89, displayed an unusual ‘bonhomie’ at his official residence Oak Over.
The veterans’ unusual display of bonhomie comes a day the ruling party received a major jolt from its rural development minister Anil Sharma, who along with his father and Congress vanguard leader Sukhram switched over to the BJP’s side.
Both Sukhram and Anil Sharma had been unhappy over the treatment meted out to them particularly during Congress’ ‘Vikas se Vijay rally’ in Mandi where AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi blew the conch for the elections. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh did not invite his onetime staunch rival Sukh Ram on to the dias. Anil Sharma too accused the CM of cold shouldering him. “It was an insult to me. Congress rally in Mandi had given preference to insignificant leaders in the party while those who have been dedicated to the party for long were ignored,” Sharma told Hindustan Times.
On Saturday evening, Sharma had tweeted his decision to join the BJP, even as speculations about his family member joining saffron party had been rife.
Stokes and Virbhadra came together for the first time after Virbhadra Singh decided to shift to Theog. Virbhadra Singh had announced just two days ago that he would contest elections from Theog, the bastion of Vidya Stokes who contested ten elections and won eight times.
Stokes and Virbhadra sat in the lawns of Oakover for long but the tension on their faces was evident even though the duo shared some lighter moments. Vidya Stokes publically invited Virbhadra Singh to contest from Theog along with Congressmen. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya too was present at Oakover.
Stokes presented a shawl and a cap and to felicitate Virbhadra Singh. “It’s not for the first time that this is happening. Leaders keep coming and going. This happens more during election time,” Virbhadra Singh commented on Anil Sharma’s move to the BJP.
Virbhadra Singh whose political career spans over 50 years is fighting his last electoral battle. Virbhadra Singh has so contested elections from three different assembly segments—Rohru, Jubbal Kotkhai and Shimla rural.
Stokes’ decision to opt out of electoral politics right before polls too has not gone down well with Congress ranks in the area. “Stokes should have consulted with her voters. During her last tour, she was campaigning for herself and announced that she would contest the election. Suddenly, she has offered Virbhadra her seat from Theog,” said Rattan Mehta, a resident of the constituency.
First Published: Oct 15, 2017 22:08 IST