Grappling with infighting, HP Cong top brass lobbying in Delhi
A week after All India Congress Committee (AICC) dissolved the party’s state, block and district units in Himachal Pradesh, hectic lobbying is underway for the top posts with leaders from rival factions camping in New Delhi.
State party chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore along with his close confidante and party’s organisational secretary Rajnish Kimta is in Delhi for the last three days. Rathore met his mentor Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, and the party’s organisation secretary KC Venugopal. According to Rathore, AICC had dissolved the state unit after consultation with him because he did not get a chance to pick his own team after taking over reigns eight months ago. So far, he had been working with the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) constituted by his predecessor Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.
On the other hand, senior Congress leaders and five-time legislator from Shilai, Harshwardhan Chauhan, who himself was in the race of for party chief, met AICC president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi apprising them about the party’s situation in the state. It has come to the fore that although Congress president Rathore had replaced presidents of the three district and seven blocks, a large section of the party is skeptical about his organisational capabilities.
Congress had been drubbed badly in Lok Sabha elections on all four seats—Shimla, Hamirpur, Mandi and Kangra—while the BJP bagged up to 72% votes. A lack of resources and poor coordination between local and state units were considered responsible for the party’s humiliating defeat. Similarly, against the party’s dismal performance in bye-elections in Pacchad and Dharamshala, BJP candidates Reena Kashyap and Vishal Neharia emerged victorious.
Infighting in the Congress was more evident in Dharamshala, when former urban development minister Sudhir Sharma refused to contest elections clearly blaming the top state leadership for his absence from the polls. Sudhir rued that grassroot workers who stood with the party during trying times were being ignored, while workers owing allegiance to a particular leader were calling the shots.
Congress senior leader Ram Lal Thakur, the front runner for post of Congress legislature party leader was also in Delhi and met Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Congress stalwart leader Kaul Singh Thakur, who won eight consecutive elections till 2012, but lost to BJP’s Jawahar Thakur, is said to be lobbying hard for the post of PPC president. Kaul Singh has been in Delhi for a long time and has met several leaders at the Centre.
Kuldeep Singh Rathore is also said to be consulting leaders at the Centre over the formation of the new team. “Any decision on selection of new leaders will be taken after consultation with AICC incharge for Himachal, Rajni Patil. Former party chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu has also given his feedback on party functioning.