Day of protests across state, as BJP, Congress take to streets
Even as the weather gods continued to blow cold, political temperature in the state soared on Wednesday as protests by the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) marked the day.Updated: Jan 08, 2014 19:34 IST
Even as the weather gods continued to blow cold, political temperature in the state soared on Wednesday as protests by the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) marked the day.
The otherwise sleepy hill town of Dharamsala witnessed back-to-back protests by the two rival parties at the same venue, Kachehri Chowk. Accusing the saffron party of running a “false propaganda” against chief minister (CM) Virbhadra Singh, protesters of the Congress burnt effigies of former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, his parliamentarian son and Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) chief Anurag Thakur, and Arun Jaietly, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.
However, inter-party rivalry was visible in Congress' protest. Though senior party leader and former MP Chander Kumar was present at the protest, RS Bali, son of transport minister GS Bali, tried to steal the show even. The Congress' district unit and Bali's supporters burnt effigies separately. RS Bali has been vying for the party ticket from the Kangra-Chamba parliamentary seat for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
As soon as junior Bali finished his speech, most of his supporters dispersed from the protest venue. Meanwhile, addressing the protesters, Chander Kumar dismissed the corruption charges levelled by BJP leaders against Virbhadra Singh as “false and baseless”.
Alleging that the BJP was "feeling the heat of vigilance probes" against Prem Kumar Dhumal and his kin, Chander Kumar said the Congress would stand rock solid behind the CM and expose the “misdeeds” of the previous BJP government.
Addressing the protest, Congress leader Kewal Singh Pathania said the BJP had tried to implicate Virbhadra Singh in false cases earlier too. “But, every time he has come out clean,” he said.
The Congress' protest was yet to end when BJP activists - led by party veteran Shanta Kumar - gathered a few metres away and protested against the CM. The BJP's protest was the part of the “Virbhadra Hatao, Pradesh Bachao” campaign launched by the BJP, following corruption allegations against the CM.
Shanta said the charges against Virbhadra were serious in nature and demanded him to step down on moral grounds. Shanta said he was pained to see that a person with property worth crores was involved in corruption. “If he (Virbhadra) doesn't resign, the party high command should remove him,” Shanta said. Others who addressed the protest were: Shahpur MLA Sarween Chaudhary, former ministers Ramesh Dhawala and Kishan Kapoor, and former MLA Bipan Singh Parmar.
BJP pastes copy of memo at mini-secretariat's gate
After holding the protest, BJP leaders who had gone to submit a memorandum to the Himachal Pradesh governor for demanding the removal of chief minister Virbhadra Singh pasted it on the main gate of the mini-secretariat as no officer was present at the office.
Condemning the district administration, Shanta said that for the first time in his political career, he had seen that officials were absent when opposition party leaders had gone to a submit memorandum that too with prior intimation.