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Posted at: Jun 14, 2018, 12:14 AM; last updated: Jun 14, 2018, 12:14 AM (IST)

Virbhadra plans show of strength in Kangra district

Supporters to meet on June 16 | Most faction leaders to show up

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, June 13

In what seems to be another tactic to pressurise party high command into removing HPCC president Sukhwinder Sukhu, the Virbhadra Singh faction has planned a show of strength in Kangra, the politically most significant district of the state having 15 Assembly segments, on June 16.

A spokesperson of the Congress Jatinder Sharma in message circulated to media here on Wednesday said that all Congress leaders, including the CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri, all sitting and former MLAs would hold a meeting on the day and discuss the future strategy of the Congress.

Sources here said that most of the Congress leaders from Kangra district barring former minister GS Bali are likely to attend the meeting. When contacted, GS Bali said he would not attend the meeting as he was not aware of it.

The meeting of the Virbhadra Singh faction in Kangra is coming after most of its leaders boycotted the first visit of Congress incharge for Himachal, Rajni Patil on June 11 at the Congress headquarters in Shimla. Virbhadra Singh made it clear to the new party incharge Rajni Patil that he would not compromise for anything less that removal of the HPCC president Sukhwinder Sukhu. Former Chief Minister had been seeking replacement of the HPCC president even before the last Assembly elections. However, at that time the party had resisted the move to replace Sukhu but had given Virbhadra Singh a free hand in Assembly elections.

With the party preparing for the parliamentary elections scheduled in less than a year, the Virbhadra Singh faction has once again upped the ante against the HPCC president. The HPCC president Sukhu has fallen alone in the state Congress and no senior leader of the Congress was now openly supporting him. He was solely banking on the support from the party high command and AICC president Rahul Gandhi.

Infighting marred Congress chances during the last Assembly elections also. The senior most leader of party Sukh Ram had left the party and joined BJP before the elections alleging that he was ignored by the party high command at the behest of Virbhadra Singh. The Congress lost all the 10 Assembly segments in Mandi district.

In Kangra also the Congress party was routed. The party managed to win just three Assembly segments in Kangra and lost 12 Assembly seats. The Congress won only those Assembly segments like Palampur, Kangra and Fatehpur where there was factionalism in the BJP.

The sources here said that Virbhadra Singh would be on a three-day tour to the lower areas of Himachal. It was his first visit to lower areas after the party lost last Assembly elections. With parliamentary elections due, now it remains to be seen if the party would be able to strike balance between various factions of congress in state or party would again be marred with factionalism while encountering formidable opposition the BJP.

Upping the ante against Sukhu

  • The meeting of the Virbhadra faction in Kangra is coming after most of its leaders boycotted the first visit of Congress incharge for Himachal Rajni Patil on June 11 
  • Virbhadra made it clear to Patil that he would not settle for anything less than the removal of the HPCC president, Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu
  • The former CM has been seeking Sukhu’s replacement even before the last Assembly elections 
  • With the parliamentary elections next year, the Virbhadra faction has once again upped the ante against Sukhu


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