Updated: December 19, 2017 8:34:52 am
The CPI(M)’s Rakesh Singha was on Monday elected from Congress stronghold Theog, which earlier sent party stalwart Vidya Stokes to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly seven times. While the BJP’s Rakesh Verma finished second, losing by a margin of 1,983 votes, Congress candidate Deepak Rathore came third.
The run-up to the election saw several ups and down, with outgoing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh announcing that Stokes had invited him to contest from the seat as she planned to retire from politics. Virbhadra later changed his mind and decided to contest from Arki in Solan district.
The Congress then fielded Deepak Rathore, a youth leader known to be close to party president Rahul Gandhi. However, Rathore was not acceptable to Stokes or Virbhadra. Stokes then filed her nomination papers, but the Returning Officer rejected them on technical grounds, as he had already accepted Rathore’s nomination as the Congress candidate.
The winner, Singha, 60, hails from the Kotgarh apple belt and was at the forefront of the agitation that followed the rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Kotkhai. He emerged as the face of the protest, highlighting the state’s law and order condition, besides the CPI(M)’s pro-farmer agenda. In the 1993 assembly elections, Singha had won from Shimla, but his election was set aside by a court as criminal charges were pending against him.
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