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Gaurav Bisht , Hindustan Times
Shimla, August 31, 2013
Taking potshots at his predecessor - former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal - chief minister Virbhadra Singh heaped praises on veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former chief minister Shanta Kumar.
In a speech loaded with wit and humour, Singh hit out Dhumal and his parliamentarian son Anurag Thakur and accused them of using power for vested interests. “The policies of Shanta Kumar were also not acceptable to the Congress, but he was never vindictive like Dhumal,” Singh said.

“Besides, Kumar's policies were also pro-poor, but we as Congressmen had difference of opinion on various issues contrary to Dhumal, who was vindictive and favoured only a few,” said the chief minister, addressing leaders and party workers from Kangra parliamentary segment.

The meet was convened by state party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu to get feedback from workers so that the party could strategise the preparations for the Lok Sabha elections.

Singh described Dhumal regime as black period in the state political history. “Investigations ordered into misdeeds of the previous government will unravel the misdeeds of the Dhumal regime,” he said, adding that his government did not believe in witch-hunting.

“If I wanted to settle political scores we would have put the BJP leaders behind the bars soon after we assumed power,” said Virbhadra Singh. “Those who have done nothing wrong in the past need not worry, but those who indulged in wrongdoings will have sleepless nights like Dhumal,” he said.

The chief minister said investigations into the functioning of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association has brought to the fore “fraud” committed by the association in the name of cricket.
“HPCA when registered another company in Kanpur gave address of the building which didn't even have a tenant,” he said.

Though the meeting was convened to discuss strategies for the Kangra parliamentary segment, Singh focused more on Hamirpur parliamentary seat. “Everyone, including the media, mentions that the Congress can win three seats, but not Hamirpur,” questioned Singh.

Blaming the shortcomings in the organisation in Hamirpur, Singh said winning the seat was not difficult.

“Anurag is not a shining star. He is not invincible and devotes a majority of his time on cricket and on foreign tours. Even his trial does not remain in Hamipur, he has done nothing for the constituency. Dhumal is not a leader of that stature that one can't defeat him,” he said, advocating the party should select candidates without “fear” and “favour”.

He said Una and Bilaspur district were already strongholds of the Congress, but the party needed to do more in Hamirpur.

Counting achievements of his government, he said the Congress government had worked more for development of Hamirpur.

Singh favoured early declaration of candidate.

“The main objective of such meetings is to provide party workers a chance to express their feelings in front of the government and the organisation. Our objective is to win all four parliamentary constituencies in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2014,” Sukhu told participants at the meeting.
“The Congress has declared its election manifesto as its policy documents and the government is trying to fulfill all its promises and we will win all four parliamentary seats in the general elections,” Sukhu added.

“The Food Security Bill, which was the dream project of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, will provide right to food for the people belonging to poor families and now no common man will sleep without meals,” he said.

AICC secretary Raja Rampal Singh felicitated Singh and Sukhu for coordination between the party and the government. “The motive of the Congress is to work for the welfare of poor and the common man of the country and the party workers should be proud of working for the India's oldest political party that had always fought for the rights of the common man,” Rampal Singh said.