Congress deputes Punjab leader to end bickering in Himachal


Shimla : The Congress party has deputed a leader from Punjab to end bickering among senior leaders of Himachal Pradesh ahead of the assembly by-elections slated for Nov 7.

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Three veterans – Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, legislative party chief Vidya Stokes and state unit president Kaul Singh Thakur – have been caught in a war of words after candidates were announced for Rohru and Jawali constituencies in Shimla and Kangra districts respectively.

A party leader said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had deputed Punjab Congress leader and working committee member Jagmeet Singh Brar to broker peace among the warring factions in Himachal.

“I have been asked by the party high command to bring all senior leaders together and make them campaign together for the party candidate in Rohru,” Brar said.

Rohru has been a Virbhadra Singh stronghold for two decades. He was the legislator from there before he won the Lok Sabha election and vacated the seat.

Virbhadra Singh’s wife, Pratibha Singh, a former MP, was eyeing the seat. However, she was denied the ticket at the last minute.

Virbhadra Singh, who started the election campaign in Rohru Oct 26, has said that he should not be blamed if the party nominees do not win.

The Congress has pitted greenhorn Manjit Singh from Rohru against Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Khushi Ram Balnatah, who lost four times in succession to Virbhadra Singh.

From Jawali, the Congress has fielded former minister Sujan Singh Pathania against BJP’s Baldev Raj Chaudhary.