Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Friday announced that he would file his nomination papers for the upcoming Assembly polls from Theog constituency on October 20. The seat in Theog is being vacated for him by senior Congress leader Vidya Stokes (89). Singh will be accompanied by Stokes and other senior Congress leaders when he files his nomination papers. He is also planning to hold a road show and start his campaign from there.
Stokes had announced Thursday her decision to vacate the seat for Singh, who, she described, was the most suitable candidate to carry forward her development agenda and public welfare initiatives . Singh made his decision public Friday when a delegation from Kumarsain met him at his residence today.
“I am not simply contesting the polls this time. My larger agenda is to form the next government. Theog is not new to me as I have travelled to almost every corner of this constituency. Earlier, when I was an MP from Mahasoo, I had represented this area as part of my parliamentary constituency,” he said. This will be Virbhadra Singh’s fourth Assembly constituency since 1985. He was elected from Jubbal-Kotkhai the first time he became the chief minister. He later shifted to Rohru and thereafter to Shimla (Rural).
Theog had always remained a Congress stronghold with Vidya Stokes being identified as as “Madam Stokes” in the area. Barring two elections, Stokes has won seven elections from the constituency. In 1993, she had lost to Rakesh Verma, who had contested on BJP’s ticket. Later, Verma also won the election as an independent candidate in 2003 and 2007.
Stokes, who had a chief ministerial ambition, had lost her chance because she was at loggerheads with Virbhadra Singh. But, at the fag end of her political career, she joined hands with Virbhadra Singh. Her late husband Lal Chand Stokes had won from Theog in 1972. But after his death, Madam Stokes won the seat in 1974 but lost in 1977 to Janata Party candidate Mehar Singh Chauhan.