In an apparent bid to send a strong message down the line against criminalisation of politics, newly-appointed Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on Wednesday suspended Doon legislator Ram Kumar from the party for his alleged involvement in the murder of a girl.
"The Congress is committed to greater transparency and accountability in the governance, and also to our policy of zero tolerance towards corruption," Sukhu said. Sukhu made it clear that indiscipline of any sort would not be tolerated in the party.
"I will not hesitate to take harsh decisions in the interest of the party. The party is also serious about the rising crime against women. It will adopt zero tolerance towards crime against women in the state," he said.
"I immediately suspended Ram Kumar from the party. He has also been removed from the post of party's general secretary," he said. Later Ram Kumar's father, former Doon MLA Lajja Ram, also met Sukhu in his office.
Spelling out his priority, Sukhu said that youths and women would be given preference in the re-organisation of the party. "There is substantial number of youths in the state. They will be given preference in the party. Similarly, women will be accommodated in the party," he said, adding that "changes will be made in the organisation from the block level". "I will shortly tour the state to seek feedback of the party workers and then the party will organise a conclave of workers in the state," he said.
Hinting at the changes in organisation, he said, "Changes in the Pradesh Congress Committee will be as per the need at the right time. "Strengthening party at block level remains the foremost priority," he said.
In reply to a question, he said that the party had not yet received the report from the three-member committee constituted to examine the expulsions of the leaders. A few days after the polling, Virbhadra Singh, who was heading the party, expelled over 24 leaders for anti-party activities. "I have not yet received the report from the committee. The issue will be examined but I reiterate that indiscipline will not be tolerated," Sukhu said.
Asked about instilling transparency in the organisation and enforcing zero tolerance towards corruption, he said that a mechanism of declaration of assets by party office-bearers and ministers would be evolved after discussing it with chief minister Virbhadra Singh.
Sukhu, who was a legislator in the last assembly, had declared his assets and sources of income in the hope that all other MLAs in the party would do so.
He said winning the Mandi parliamentary seat was his foremost priority.