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Himachal Assembly polls: Stokes out of race, nomination rejected

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

Ruling Congress on Tuesday got a jolt in Himachal Pradesh as the nomination of senior minister, Vidya Stokes from Theog Assembly segment was rejected by the Returning Officer

The list of valid candidates for Theog, which was released by the Returning Officer in the evening, did not carry the name of Stokes and it showed Deepak Rathore as Congress nominee.

“We are just compiling the reports from the field,” said Chief Electoral Officer, Himachal Pradesh, Pushpender Rajput.

Official sources said Stokes’ nomination has been rejected on technical grounds as she could not produce the authorised letter of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).

Stokes is 89 years old and eight times MLA.

In a dramatic turn of events on the last day of nomination on 23 October, she had got a go ahead from the AICC and had filed her papers from Theog Assembly segment in Shimla district.

Confusion prevailed as before her, Deepak Rathore, who was declared as official nominee of Congress for Theog on Sundayevening filed his nomination in the morning on Monday.

Stokes had filed her nomination as independent candidate and had later produced the letter issued by Pradesh Congress Committee Chief, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

Sources said the embarrassment occurred as Deepak Rathore did not hold back his nomination even after Stokes was told by party high command to file the papers.

Stokes had earlier shown readiness to vacate Theog for Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh, planning to retire.

However, when Singh chose to contest from Arki, she lobbied to make the local leader, Vijay Pal Khachi as the official nominee. Sources said while Khachi was about to get the ticket, the final list released on Sunday evening surprisingly carried the name of Deepak Rathore.

Sources said upset over this, when Stokes took up the issue with party high command on phone on Monday night, she was told to file her own nomination.