The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee has toughed its stance against indiscipline in the party. Wielding a stick to rein in warring leaders - former Minister Anita Verma and former legislator Rajender Rana - Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has slapped showcause notices on the two for damaging the party's image.
Sukhu has taken serious cognizance of the factional war that led to clashes between supporters of Verma and Rana during the general house meeting at Sujanpur constituency on April 7.
Supporters of the two leaders clashed in front of Sukhu and later loyalists owing allegiance to Rajender Rana left the venue only to return after intervention by other party leaders.
The meeting had been organised to stem the bickering between two leaders but the brawl left the party's image sullied.
Factionalism in the block unit of Sujanpur grew after Rajender Rana, once an Independent legislator, joined Congress ahead of Lok Sabha elections to contest against BJP's three-time parliamentarian Anurag Thakur.
Rana, a one-time lieutenant of former chief minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal, quit BJP after the party denied him ticket.
When Rana was independent legislator, he had won by defeating his then rival, Congress' Anita Verma, and BJP's Urmil Thakur.
Rajender Rana's wife contested by-elections in Sujanpur on Congress ticket but lost to BJP's Narender Thakur.
Infighting between Rana and Verma became more intense as they are trying hard to gain control over the block unit, which is to an extent dominated by the latter's supporters.
The Congress has also issued a showcause notice to Block Congress Committee chief Kuldeep Singh Bedi. "No one is above party," Sukhu said.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh had appointed Rana as vice-chairman of state disaster management authority and had been propagating him
much to annoyance of the other party leaders particularly those on the frontline in Hamirpur district.
Rana and Verma have been asked to submit a clarification on the issue within 15 days, failing which disciplinary action would be initiated as per the party's constitution.
Petinently, the Congress, after the assembly polls in May 2013, had issued notices to 84 leaders for their anti-party activities during the elections.
Sukhu, ever since taking over the reins, has been primarily focusing on inculcating discipline among party leaders.