'Mankotia's return in larger interest of the party'

Even as Vijai Singh Mankotia's entry into the Congress took everybody by surprise, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday defended his patch-up with his detractor.


"I still have personal differences with Mankotia. I invited him back into the party keeping in mind the larger interest of the Congress," said Virbhadra, while mocking at the intra-party strife in the Bharatiya Janata Party. "There are no differences among the Congress leaders. It's the BJP leaders who are squabbling over tickets," he said.

Virbhadra, who returned to the state capital on Monday evening, expressed resentment over election commission's decision to conduct elections in a rush. "The election commission has done an injustice to us by giving only a month's time. It did not also keep in mind the topography of the state. Still, we have to accept the decision," Singh said.

He said the BJP was making false claims of rapid development in the state. "Development which the BJP is harping on is only on papers, there is nothing on the ground," Virbhadra said. He also criticised the Dhumal government for bad condition of roads across the state.

Singh described luxury cottages constructed by real estate giant DLF in Shimla as one of the biggest scams in the state. "In this case, permission to transfer the land to the builder, permission to axe 'A' category pine trees and clearance of maps - all happened in a single day for the first time in the history of Himachal Pradesh," he said. "The deputy commissioner of Shimla allotted Rs 38 lakh from the district rural development fund for the construction of road leading to the apartments. There ought to be some 'superpower' working behind the scene," Singh said.

He said that if voted to power, the Congress government would subsidise more LPG cylinders for domestic purpose. "If the Congress comes to power, people would get three more subsidised LPG cylinders," he said, while downplaying the Centre's recent 'six subsidised cylinders a year' decision, which is bound to become a rallying point for the opposition parties. "In Himachal people are wise and educated. They know what led to the increase in petroleum prices," Virbhadra said.

Virbhadra said he would begin his election campaign from Bharmour on Wednesday.

 

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