Even as leaders from various assembly segments comprising the Shimla parliamentary seat gathered here as Congress candidate Mohan Lal Brakta filied his for nomination papers, the dissidence amongst local Shimla leaders was far more evident.
Congress could not put up a show of strength on the occasion. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh and state party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu joined Brakta when he submitted his papers at Shimla deputy commissioner’s office.
Senior Congress leader and irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes and social welfare minister Dhani Ram, Chief parliamentary secretaries Rohit Thakur, Vinay Kumar, Paonta legislator Karnesh Jung were also present during the nomination filing.
Local leaders accompanying district Congress committee (urban) president Pradeep Singh Bhujja stood at the central telegraph office, and were joined by state party general secretary Harbhajan Singh Bhajji and former MLA Aadarsh Sood.
Congress leader and former deputy mayor Harish Janartha - blue-eyed boy of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, tried to put up his own show of strength. Janartha came separately along with his supporters and joined Brakta.
What made the factionalism more evident was that two groups waited for chief minister Virbhadra Singh at two separate gates leading to the district collectorate.
However, Virbhadra, who was in utter hurry to join the public meeting in Mandi, left from the main gate leaving both groups high and dry.
Later, Congress staged a procession from district office till Naaz square. Only local leaders participated in the procession, as the vanguards did not join them.
Both the groups, one led by Harish Janartha and the other owing allegiance to Bhujja had been campaigning separately to improve the prospect of Brakta.
“There seems to be utter lack of coordination in the campaigning. After all, it’s not the individuals but the party which is contesting the elections,” said a local Congress leader.
Janartha had contested for assembly elections from Shimla but lost closely to BJP’s Suresh Bhardwaj. Separate campaigning by the two groups has led to confusion amongst the party cadres.
“It’s strange that one day a group covers the locality and the next day leaders from other group visit the same locality,” said a Congress worker. Brakta himself had to campaign with two different groups.
Two press releases
After the nomination filing process was over, both Bhujja and Janartha issued separate press notes for media offices. Interestingly, both the press notes were contrary to each other.