A fortnight after its expansion, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) has withheld the appointment of five secretaries.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) had approved 53 names for inclusion in the HPCC on February 14. HPCC president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said the list of those whose appointment has been withheld will be issued by the party's state headquarters soon. “The party has withheld the appointment of five secretaries,” said Sukhu without naming anyone. He said there was resentment among party cadres over the appointment of one or two leaders, while others had been appointed on political posts by state government.
A source said two of the five leaders who were appointed party secretaries are from Dharamsala. A faction of Congress workers was opposing their appointments. The third one is a woman leader from Rohru who was appointed in the party's child welfare council recently. There is suspense on the other two names.
Earlier, Sukhu presided over the meeting of Kangra District Congress Committee (DCC) regarding arrangements for AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi's Dharamsala rally on March 8. He said Gandhi will also hold a meeting with party office bearers from the block to state level on the same day. “The meeting aims to know the expectations of party workers,” said Sukhu, adding that Gandhi would also meet ex- servicemen. Later, in the evening, Sukhu along with transport minister GS Bali, and urban development minister Sudhir Sharma also inspected the venue of the rally.
Candidate likely to be finalised before Rahul rally
On candidates for the four Lok Sabha seats in the state, Sukhu said the party was likely to finalise names before Rahul Gandhi's rally. “The situation will be clear in two or three days. We will finalise the candidates within a week, most probably before Gandhi's rally,” said Sukhu.
It is worth mentioning that the Congress' election committee will meet in Delhi on March 3 to finalise candidates from Himachal.
Barring the Mandi Lok Sabha seat where the candidature of Pratibha Singh, sitting MP and wife of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, is being considered a foregone conclusion, the decision on candidates for the other three seats is yet to be taken.
For Hamirpur constituency, industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri is said to be the frontrunner. However, chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who has refused to spare Agnihotri from the state cabinet, is backing the candidature of Sujanpur MLA Rajinder Singh Rana. For Shimla, the Virbhadra camp is supporting Rohru legislator Mohan Lal Brakta, while the other contender, Vinod Sultanpuri, is using his clout in Delhi to get the ticket.
Party is also indecisive on the Kangra seat. Former parliamentarian Chaudhary Chander Kumar and RS Bali, son of transport minister GS Bali, are vying for the post. Even Jodhpur (Rajasthan) MP Chandresh Kumari is keen to contest from Kangra.