With the central Congress leadership yet to end suspense over relaxing “one family, one ticket” rule for Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh and Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur’s daughter Champa Thakur in Himachal Pradesh, Thakur’s daughter could not wait any more.
With October 23 being last date for filing nominations for the November 9 Assembly polls in the state, Champa Thakur, led by a large number of supporters, on Saturday filed her nomination from Mandi to contest against former minister and Sukh Ram’s son Anil Sharma who had recently quit the party to join the BJP. Thakur is currently Zila Parishad chief in Mandi.
Kaul Singh, who has already filed his nomination from Drang, his own Assembly seat, appealed to Mandi voters to vote for Champa Thakur, whom he called as “Mandi ki beti”. He said decision on her ticket may come any time. For Mandi seat, the other claimant for Congress tickets is D D Thakur, who had earlier been in the BJP and contested against Anil Sharma in 2012 polls.
Vikramaditya Singh, who also had plans to file his nomination on Friday but later dropped his plan, rushed to Delhi Saturday to lobby for an early decision on Shimla (Rural), a constituency given up by his father for him. Some insiders say Virbhadra has been called by the party leadership in Delhi. The Central Election Committee of the Congress has so far cleared 59 out of the total 68 candidates. There were chances of the decision on the rest being taken Saturday late night.
The seats left out include Theog, which veteran Congress leader Vidya Stokes had offered to Virbhadra saying she wanted to retire from electoral politics. However, the CM, who opted for Arki instead, wants Stokes to contest the seat now. Other seats are Mandi and Palampur. Speaker B B L Butail wants his son Ashish Butail to contest in his place from Palampur, where BJP has fielded Indu Goswami, its state Mahila Morcha chief.
Transport Minister G S Bali has also been seeking ticket for his son Raghuvir Singh Bali or an assurance to consider him in 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Kangra. Insiders say Virbhadra, who has been given the party’s poll command and named as chief ministerial face, is getting impatient over the party’s indecision. His son has already been working/touring the constituency of Shimla Rural for the past three months.
Rebel Vijai Singh Mankotia also in race
Major Vijai Singh Mankotia (retired), who had already revolted against the Chief Minister, is also being considered as candidate from Shahpur in Kangra, a seat he lost in 2012. Mankotia was neither expelled from the party nor did he quit even after he openly called Virbhadra Singh the most corrupt politician. After his diatribe, Mankotia was removed as vice-chairman of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board, headed by Virbhadra Singh himself after his interview attacking the CM was published in a newspaper.
Mankotia’s love-and-hate relationship with the Chief Minister is known, but he commands influence among ex-servicemen. Ahead of 2007 polls too, he had released a controversial CD against Virbhadra and contested as a BSP candidate. Sources said Mankotia may be asked to tender an apology to Virbhadra as a condition for a ticket.