Terming the resignation bid of transport minister GS Bali as an anti-party activity act, chief minister Virbhadra Singh said it was just a manoeuver to get his portfolio changed.
The chief minister, who returned from Delhi after meeting All-India Congress Committee (AICC) president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, asserted that he would adopt a different course in case Bali did not withdraw his resignation.
The CM explained that portfolios to ministers have been allocated according to their capabilities. Both the transport and food departments are important, he added.
On Bali's demand, the chief minister quipped, "For him sky is the limit."
"When the cat's away, the mice will play" - Virbhadra said this on being asked that was it a bid made by his detractors to destabilise his government. "There is no threat to my government; it is as strong as a rock," he added.
Singh denied that Bali had tendered any resignation to him. "I have not received his resignation so far. However, I have learnt that he (Bali) had handed his resignation to Ahmed Patel, Sonia's political secretary," he said.
Singh said had Bali been serious, he could have tendered the resignation to him instead of giving to Patel.
"The move is totally ill-timed. His move has come at a time when the party is preparing to go for the Mandi bypoll," he said, adding that if Bali meets him he will ask him to withdraw his resignation and get down to work.
At the same time, issuing a veiled threat, he said, "I wish that better sense prevails upon him. I will wait for reasonable time if he doesn't change his stance than I will have to adopt another course." He denied having any confrontation with Bali in the past.
The CM said since it was Bali who initiated the move it was for him to unwind it now.
On reports about giving preference to urban development minister Sudhir Sharma over Bali, Virbhadra said, "There is no question of giving importance to any individual."
Virbhadra Singh minced no words to say that his wife Pratibha Singh was a front-runner for the ticket to the Mandi parliamentary seat.
Transport minister GS Bali remained uncertain about his resignation. Bali, who called on the governor in the afternoon, neither denied nor accepted that he had resigned from the cabinet. "The chief minister is the tallest political leader in the state. Don't want to comment on what he said. Whatever he told the media must have said with his experience," Bali said. "I am happy with my portfolios, but certainly there are many issues. I will meet party leaders in Delhi and then I will proceed for my scheduled holidays," Bali added, confirming that he has returned the official vehicles. He described his meeting with the governor as a courtesy call.
Health minister's take
Health minister Kaul Singh Thakur commented guardedly on Bali's resignation. "I don't know what could be the reason behind his resignation and I don't want to comment on Pratibha Singh's candidature for the Mandi seat," he said. On being asked about the Congress criticising former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal for promoting his son Anurag Thakur in politics, Kaul Singh said he had not promoted anyone from his family in politics.