In an apparent bid to signal high command and as well his detractors that he is in full command of his government and enjoys backing from party, chief minister Virbhadra Singh put up a show of strength on Thursday to mark the second anniversary of Congress government in Himachal Pradesh.
While opposition parties castigated the two- year rule of Congress government, Virbhadra Singh on Thursday chose to flock his cabinet at his official residence - Oak Over.
All the ministers accompanied Singh at the media briefing organised to enlist achievements of this two years of regime, even as majority of them were a mere repetition.
Barring power minister Sujan Singh Pathania, all ministers including irrigation, public health minister Vidya Stokes, transport minister GS Bali, urban development minister Sudhir Sharma, excise minister Parkash Chaudhary, forest minister Thakur Singh, animal husbandry minister Anil Sharma, social welfare minister Dhani Ram Shandil were seated along with Singh in front row of specially erected dais in the backyard of his official residence.
What came as surprise that even health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, who reportedly heads a group of detractors, turned up at media briefing. "Chief minister Virbhadra Singh had sent me personal invite," said Thakur.
Some of the ministers left soon after media briefing, skipping the lunch hosted by the chief minister. The health and transport ministers were amongst those who did not attend lunch session. Out of seven chief parliamentary secretaries, Vinay Kumar, Mansa Ram, Rohit Thakur and Jagjivan Pal were present.
State Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu too was present and his achievements were enlisted by the chief minister. The CM hit out at his detractors. Virbhadra said the government had deferred plan to celebrate second anniversary of his government in wake of inclement weather.
"It's not that we will not celebrate as being highlighted by the opposition. The rally to mark out two-year rule proposed at Mandi had to be deferred due to bad weather," said Virbhadra.
"Opposition just looks for an opportunity to hit out at the government, me in particular," said the CM who blamed the BJP for "not playing a healthy role in the state's development." Interestingly, none of the Congress legislators were present at the luncheon, but the chairmen and vice-chairmen of various boards and corporations were visible at every nook and corner of Oak Over.
Some of the chairmen and vice chairmen even shared the stage with the CM. Virbhadra's son, youth Congress president Vikramaditya Singh;vice-chairman of the fifth state planning commission, Kuldeep Kumar; planning board vice-chairman Gangu Ram, state tourism development board vice-chairman Vijay Singh Mankotia, state co- operative bank vice-chairman Harsh Mahajan, forest corporation vice-chairman Kewal Singh Pathania , Subhash Manglate from state agriculture produce marketing committee were also present.