Himachal Pradesh next test for Congress
The shocking result in neighboring Punjab and the below par performance in Uttarakhand has made the Congress nervous in Himachal Pradesh, which goes to polls along with Gujarat later this year.chandigarh Updated: Mar 19, 2012 11:31 IST
The shocking result in neighboring Punjab and the below par performance in Uttarakhand has made the Congress nervous in Himachal Pradesh, which goes to polls along with Gujarat later this year.
The party has already shifted all its focus to these two BJP-ruled states after the drubbing in assembly elections in UP and Punjab. To counter an emboldened BJP, a section of the faction-ridden state unit want the Congress high command to hand over the charge of elections to a leader who carries weight among all the sections.
Many of them feel that the present leadership — state Congress president Kaul Singh Thakur and CLP leader Vidya Stokes — is too weak to take on the BJP, also marred by infighting and in the dock over the allegations of corruption.
There is also a growing discontent within the BJP over chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's bid to promote his son Anurag Thakur in the state politics.
Smelling blood, the Congress is confident that family politics, corruption charges and the strong anti-incumbency factor would ensure the fall of the BJP government.
But many leaders say this is possible only if the central leadership hands over the reins of the party to Union minister Virbhadra Singh, who is the most powerful and influential Congress leader in Himachal Pradesh and not averse to playing the lead role.
The five-time CM has been marginalised in the state politics after his election from Mandi parliamentary constituency in 2009.
The other factor that is worrying the Congress is the rise of Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), a regional party floated by former BJP MP Maheshwar Singh.
Political observers say HLP will inflict more damage to Congress than BJP as in the case of Manpreet Badal who divided anti-incumbency votes in Punjab and played spoiler for Congress in about 23 seats.