Virbhadra junks Theog seat; eyes former Cong stronghold Arki

Virbhadra junks Theog seat; eyes former Cong stronghold Arki

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has junked plans to contest the November 9 elections from Theog and zeroed in on Arki assembly seat, a Congress stronghold that was wrested by the BJP.

The change in seat was discussed at a meeting Singh held with the central leadership of the party to screen the list of probables for the elections. The filing of nominations for the assembly poll began on Monday and the last date for filing election papers is October 23.

Singh, a member of the Himachal assembly from Shimla Rural, is leaving the seat for his son Vikramaditya, who is the president of the state unit of the Youth Congress.

Earlier, the chief minister had announced plans to contest from Theog, a seat held by senior minister Vidya Stokes who has pulled out of electoral politics citing her advanced age. Stokes would turn 89 this December.

The Arki assembly seat was represented by Congress leader Dharampal Thakur for three consecutive terms since 1993. Thakur contested as an independent in 2007 after Congress refused him a ticket but lost to Govind Ram Sharma of the BJP. Sharma won the seat in 2012 but with a reduced margin pushing Congress to the second position.

Congress had won 36 seats in the 2012 assembly elections dislodging the BJP which could manage only 26 seats. Like the Congress, the BJP in Himachal is also is divided into factions which at times test the central leadership's skills to keep the house in order.
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Only on Monday, Virbhadra forced the Congress' central leadership to roll back its decision to make arch-rival and party's state unit president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu as the chairman of the campaign committee for the elections.

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