New Delhi: Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and senior Congress leaders Kaul Singh and Vidya Stokes figure in the list of 68 candidates released by the party for the forthcoming assembly polls in the hill state.

Major (retd) Vijay Singh Mankotia, who had released a CD of a telephonic conversation of the alleged monetary transactions between Virbhadra Singh, his wife Pratibha and a former bureaucrat, also figures in the list.

The CD later led to the lodging of a first information report (FIR) against Virbhadra Singh and his wife. A party leader said that Mankotia, who was suspended from the Congress, and Virbhadra Singh had recently "patched up" following suggestions from the party leadership.

The party's central election committee had on Saturday discussed candidates for the Nov 4 assembly polls in the state. The Himachal assembly has 68 seats.

While most of the names were cleared by the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress Saturday, the pending names were approved by party president Sonia Gandhi Monday morning, according to a Congress leader.

Virbhadra Singh is the Congress candidate from Shimla rural while Stokes will contest from Theog, her traditional seat. Former Congress chief Kaul Singh Thakur will contest from Darang. Mankotia is the party candidate from Shahpur.

Party functionaries said that Virbhadra Singh's candidature is an indication that he would be in contention for the chief minister's post if the party wins the polls. Other prominent names for the post include Asha Kumari, G.S. Bali, Ram Lal Thakur, Gangu Ram Musafir and Dhani Ram Shandil.

(Agencies)



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