Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who is presently fighting for supremacy within the state Congress, on Sunday appeared to have buckled under the combined and unrelenting pressures of the party high command and state party leadership.
While maintaining his characteristic dominating attitude on stage during an impressive district-level “Parivartan rally”, organised by the party in the city, he was seen making efforts to exchange pleasantries with state Congress president Kaul Singh Thakur and party incharge Virender Chaudhary, both of whom are strongly against the former union minister being handed over the reins during the assembly elections.
In his address, Virbhadra Singh said, “Power and posts do not matter for me as my priority is only to ensure that the Congress returns to power in the state,” adding, “If we want to win, we must unite.”
He, however, cautioned the party leadership against fielding ‘nakli’ (fake) leaders if it has to ensure the Congress comeback, adding that the party should put its stakes on candidates who are linked to the grassroots.
In his speech, state party in-charge Virender Chaudhary, while terming Virbhadra Singh and Congress party as synonyms in Himachal Pradesh, called upon the senior and upcoming state party leadership to shun “ghise-pite neta” (old and worn-out leaders) and pave the way for new and fresh faces in the state.
Chaudhary cautioned that while the party’s screening committee would give a patient hearing to all the prospective candidates, the senior state leadership will have to support the ones who have been allotted the party symbol to contest. “Efforts to weaken the party or support other candidates will not be tolerated at any cost,” he said.
Chaudhary said while in the past, no Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates had been given the Congress ticket in the district, this time around, youth, women and OBC candidates would be given due representation while allocating tickets. He said sitting MLAs would be given tickets only if they had winning prospects.
The Congress in-charge said that their party would ‘gherao’ the Vidhan Sabha during the coming assembly session on the failure of the state government on all fronts.
He alleged that chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his son had promoted land, forest, liquor and mining mafias in the state and had virtually purchased the BJP MLAs, while those who did not like the CM’s functioning, had left the party.
HPCC president Thakur Kaul Singh too charged that Dhumal was shielding anti-social elements and had played with the interests of the state. Vidya Stokes, leader of opposition in the Vidhan Sabha, said the BJP government had led the state to a debt trap with loans amounting to over Rs 30,000 crore.
‘BJP govt misusing funds on advertisements’
Virbhadra Singh charged that advertisements worth lakhs of rupees were being given by the state government in different sections of the media every day.
Alleging that these advertisements were merely depicting the “so-called achievements” of the BJP government during the past five years, he said this was sheer waste of public money at the state’s exchequer to bring benefit to a particular political party.
Singh said he had taken up the matter with the election commission to ban the advertisements or impose the model code of conduct for elections.
Rally turns out to be show of strength
The Parivartan rally, which turned out to be a successful rally for the Congress, appeared to have rejuvenated the party cadre in the district. Thousands of party workers came pouring in from all the five assembly segments as most of them came with flags, banners and placards with photographs of the Congress candidates of their choice in their respective segments.