While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh is taking no chances and is geared up in advance in the run up to Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has not learnt any lessons even after its defeat in the 2017 Assembly polls in the state.
Although worker meetings by party in charge Rajni Patil across the state in past some days has charged the Congress cadres, the top brass in opposition party in Himachal, particularly six-time former Congress Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh again looked in the confrontational mode.
Octogenarian Singh, who could neither secure repeat of Congress government in Himachal Pradesh in 2017 polls despite claims for several reasons, including infighting in party, nor get state Congress chief, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, 53, removed from the post before elections, was again active to find Sukhu’s way out.
Trying to push his own loyalists, including a former minister who lost the Assembly poll, to replace Sukhu as Congress President in Himachal, the former Congress CM even made a public remark that he would not share stage with Sukhu. But all in vain, so far.
Singh ultimately shared stage with Sukhu in the presence of Rajni Patil. His reaction to Patil’s comment terming him a ‘margdarshak’ of Congress party due, that “I am active in politics. I am not to be equated with LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi of BJP” did convey that he is still not going to take the things lying down in politics.
Congress insiders said Sukhu, who has deep roots in high command having risen from the ground in party organisation in HP, has so far proved hard nut to crack. He managed to stay put at the same position before polls when Singh was all powerful and is still holding on to the ground, despite direct attack by Singh and silent opposition by many of Singh’s loyalists of late.
Party sources said although the confidants of Virbhadra Singh, including Congress Legislative Party leader, Mukesh Agnihotri, do not side by Sukhu, but of late, most of them have gone silent—“They are mostly adopting wait and watch policy, not able to read high command’s mind on the preferred leadership,” said sources.
“It is not like that. All the leaders are sharing stage. We have organised so many party meetings, the response of workers and public is good and we are fully prepared for the Lok Sabha polls,” said state Congress chief, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.