Mankotia patches up with Virbhadra, to rejoin Cong, contest from Shahpur
Two-time Congress minister and a known Virbhadra Singh detractor, Major (retd) Vijai Singh Mankotia is set to rejoin the party and will fight the November 4 Himachal Assembly polls from Shahpur ó a constituency he had represented five times.
In 2007, Mankotia was suspended after he had released a controversial audio CD purportedly containing the voices of the then chief minister Virbhadra, his wife Pratibha Singh and IAS officer Mohinder Lal and some industrialists discussing monetary transactions. The CD later led to the lodging of an FIR against Virbhadra and his wife. The case is pending in court. Virbhadra also went on to file a defamation case against Mankotia in 2007, which is also pending.
Following his suspension, Mankotia left the Congress and after a brief stint in the BSP ó from where he contested the 2007 polls and lost to Industries Minister Krishan Kapoor in Dharamsala ó he had taken political retirement.
But ahead of the November polls, Mankotia has once again come closer to the Congress, which too was willing to embrace him as his return not only suits Virbhadra individually but also the party in Kangra district.
According to sources, Mankotia has decided to bury his hatchet with Virbhadra and has already worked out a patch-up formula with the state party chief. "Mankotia held a closed-door meeting with Virbhadra Singh in Delhi on Thursday. Later, he also met AICC General Secretary Birender Singh, who is the party incharge in Himachal Pradesh," a close Virbhadra aide said.
When contacted, Birender Singh said: "Mankotia's request to return to the Congress has been received by the party. We will soon make an announcement about it and also his ticket, possibly from Shahpur."
Sources added that two leaders who worked behind the scene to bring Mankotia back to the Congress were sitting MLA Sudhir Sharma and Youth Congress leader Manmohan Katoch.
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