After poll debacle, HP Congress wants panel to take ‘inactive leaders’ to task
Six days after the Bharatiya Janata Party registered a win in the Pachhad and Dharamshala bypolls, state Congress leaders have asked the high command to form a committee to assess the poll debacle and take action against ‘inactive leaders’.
Himachal Pradesh Congress committee chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore said, “Some party leaders did not play an active role in the elections. I have written to AICC Himachal in-charge Rajni Patil asking her to constitute a panel of leaders to ascertain reasons for the party's defeat. Party workers are demanding that action be taken against those who sabotaged the party.”
The Congress, which is bogged down with intraparty squabbles, had put up a spirited fight in the Pachhad assembly segment that was once the bastion of the grand old party but the Congress candidate lost his deposit in Dharamshala.
In Pachhad, BJP’s greenhorn Reena Kashyap defeated Congress’ Gangu Ram Musafir with a margin of 2,742 votes. BJP’s rebel candidate Dayal Pyari finished third with 11,651 votes.
However, in Dharamshala, as the elections drew closer, the rift between local leaders became wider, which contributed to party candidate Vijay Inder Karan’s dismal defeat.
Former urban development minister Sudhir Sharma, who had established himself in Dharamshala in 2012, refused to contest elections this time around. Sharma had lost to Lok Sabha member Kishan Kapoor in 2017.
Initially, Sharma ascribed health reasons for his refusal to enter the fray but later hinted that his differences with the Congress’ top rung — party leaders Mukesh Agnihotri and Kuldeep Singh Rathore — played an important role. Sharma has been vocal about regional and caste imbalance in the Congress’ organisational set up in the state.
Sharma did not campaign for the party and only addressed the booth in-charges of Dharamshala a day before the polls.
The party's veteran leader, former transport minister GS Bali could only campaign in Dharamshala for a day owing to his ill-health. BJP’s first-time candidate Vishal Nehariya defeated his closest rival Rakesh Kumar with a margin of 6,758 votes. Karan, however, lost his security deposit as he failed to secure one-sixth of the total votes. He squarely blamed Sharma for his defeat.
Congress’ drubbing soon after the Lok Sabha elections has demoralised the party workers. Of the 80 Block Congress Committees (BCCs)in the state, the party has already reconstituted 70.
The Congress will reorganise its district committee while revamping of the Pradesh Congress committee is also on the cards.
In the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had suffered a setback in all 68 segments and has been lying low since then.