Virbhadra was interested in Theog, I’ve no issue with that: Vidya Stokes
Veteran Congress leader Vidya stokes has chosen to make an exit as Virbhadra looks to contest from Theog, which she represented for four decades.HimachalPradeshElection2017 Updated: Oct 14, 2017 17:37 IST
At 89, Congress leader Vidya Stokes has decided to opt out of electoral politics. She is the only woman to have won eight of 10 elections contested. The daughter-in-law of Satyanand Stokes, the man credited for the apple farming revolution in Himachal Pradesh, contested her first election in 1974.
Though her rise in politics was gradual, she was Speaker, minister and state Congress president. Often compared to former prime minister Indira Gandhi, she is close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. At one time, she even challenged chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s dominance in state politics. She has chosen to make an exit as Virbhadra looks to contest from Theog, which she represented for four decades. Excerpts from an interview:
Q. Why did you decide to quit electoral politics now?
I’ve decided to quit electoral politics but I’ll always be there for my people. The decision is well considered. I want to spend more time with my family.
Q. How would you describe your political career?
My political innings have been more than satisfactory. I encountered many ups and downs but my will to work for the people kept me going. I chose public welfare over political ambition. I contested my first election in 1974 after the death of my husband, who represented Theog. I continued working for people whether I was in power or not.
Q. Did you offer chief minister Virbhadra Singh the Theog seat? Or was there any pressure?
No, there were discussions on and he asked me about my plans. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh was interested in Theog. Maybe he thinks it’s best suited. I have no issue. I’m not under any pressure. If I wished, I could have contested but it’s high time now.
Q. Virbhadra Singh was once your political rival.
(Smiles) In politics, one has many friends and foes. But I always thought of the party before taking a decision. There are so many leaders in the area but Virbhadra is most capable and will ensure development there.
Q. Any regrets? Any dream?
No regrets, I’m happy for my people. I’ve done a lot of things tirelessly for Theog. When I contested for the first time, Theog was a backward area and today things have changed. I don’t want any credit but it’s satisfying.