After days of suspense and a battle of nerves, Congress has cleared the names of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh, and health minister Kaul Singh Thakur’s daughter Champa Thakur for contesting state assembly polls from Shimla (Rural) and Mandi.
Earlier in the day, out of nine pending names, the Central Election Committee of the congress cleared only seven names and changed one ticket keeping a complete suspense on the name of Vikramaditya Singh, whose candidature was already announced by Chief Minister from his constituency – Shimla (Rural), which he has given-up already for him.
But the delay, says a senior AICC leader, was due to non-clearence of these two names – son and daughter of sitting politicians who themselves are candidates. “It involved a policy matter which only AICC Vice-president Rahul Gandhi could have done. Now, he has waived off the ‘one family one ticket’ condition, which was applied earlier in Punjab polls,” said the AICC office-bearer over phone .
Vikramaditya, who is also the president of state youth congress, however, already said earlier in the day that since October 23 is the last date for filing of the nominations, he cannot wait anymore. Chief Minister’s poll office also released his tour plan which included his engagement with Vikramaditya Singh during filing of the nomination papers in Shimla on Monday morning.
Party insiders say there was a lot of opposition in the party circles about relaxing ‘one family one ticket’ formula. But, since the congress high command had already accepted Virbhadra Singh’s terms to make him Chief Ministerial face for November 9 polls, and made head of the campaign committee, it could have caused a lot of crisis in the party at the last minute if he had taken an adverse stand again .
Earlier too, Virbhadra had told the party that he will not contest the poll and will sit back if not given the poll command.
In case of Champa Thakur, she had already filed her nomination papers at Mandi on Saturday in anticipation of the party’s decision in her favour. She is the Zila Parishad chairman at Mandi .
Thakur will be Congress candidate against Anil Sharma, a cabinet minister and son of Pt Sukh Ram (former Communication minister), who had resigned and joined the BJP to contest from the party .
Virbhadra Singh had filed his nomination papers from Arki in Solan district even as earlier he had announced to contest from Theog in place of Congress senior Vidya Stokes. Kaul Singh Thakur is also contesting from Drang in Mandi district.
This is the first time in Himachal Pradesh when two pairs of father-son and father-daughter are simultaneously contesting the state assembly polls .
Significantly Ashish Butail, son of state assembly speaker B B L Butail has also been given ticket from Palampur—which is Butail senior’s constituency in Kangra district.
Other names cleared today are Kewal Singh Pathania from Shahpur –a constituency where Major (Rtd) Vijai singh Mankotia lost as Congress candidate in Kangra, Hira Chand Sharma from Manali, Surender Singh Thakur from Kullu, Vivek Sharma from Kutlehar in Una, Lakhwinder Rana in Nalagarh (Solan).
The prestigious seat of Theog now has gone to Deepak Rathore, a youth leader considered close to Rahul Gandhi. Earlier in the day name of Vijay Pal Khachi—son of veteran Congress leader, Late J B L Khachi – also figured on Chief Minister’s facebook but Rathore was a surprise candidate. Another leader Kuldeep Rathore whose name was being pushed by Anand Sharma could not get the ticket in the final round.
Theog is the constituency of Vidya Stokes, who had decided not to contest. The candidate from Ani has been changed with Paras Ram. The Congress has completed the entire list of 68 candidates .