In another jolt to Congress in poll bound Himachal Pradesh a senior Congress leader Vijay Singh Mankotia and former Congress MLA Rakesh Kalia have joined BJP.
Mankotia joined BJP in the presence of national president of BJP Jagat Prakash Nadda and Harsh Mahajan at Bilaspur on Tuesday .
Mankotia, who had won five Assembly elections from Shahpur Assembly constituency was defeated by BJP candidate Sharveen Chaudhary during 1998 Assembly election.
He was aspiring for Congress ticket this time too but Congress has fielded Kewal Singh Pathania from Shahpur.
Former Major in the Indian Army, Mankotia had joined politics after retiring from the Army and remained a dynamic leader of Congress.
He had love-hate relations with former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and joined Janta Dal in 1987. He had rejoined Congress in 2003 and remained a Cabinet Minister in Virbhadra government but was removed from the Cabinet to reduce the Cabinet strength as per Supreme Court directions.
During the 2007 Parliament by-election for Hamirpur constituency he had released an audio CD against the CM Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh related to allegations of fund collection from industrialists for elections.He contested the 2007 Assembly election on BSP ticket from Dharamshala.
He rejoined Congress in 2012 but he was not given Congress ticket and contested as an Independent Candidate and was planning to enter the fray this time also as an Independent candidate .
Kalia, a three time Congress MLA from Chintpurni constituency was denied the party ticket for the ensuing Assembly election and Congress has given ticket to a new face Chaitanya Sharma .He was defeated by BJP candidate Rajesh Thakur in the last Assembly election in 2017.