Believe it or not, it wasn’t the state government alone, the ruling Congress party too was cash strapped over last five years in Himachal Pradesh. So much so that it struggled to meet the monthly expenditure of Rs four to five lakh to run the Congress office in Shimla.
The office, which still has two (out of total five) unauthorised storeys with the party seeking regularisation now, faltered on depositing even property tax with the Shimla Municipal Corporation for seven years.
The PCC released a cheque of Rs 20 lakh, including penalty of Rs one lakh, to Municipal Corporation to clear property tax arrears on Tuesday only, after getting five recovery notices, one for attaching the property (the building of Congress headquarters). The party also paid Rs 1.28 lakh as lease money to the MC.
“We could do all this due to fee collected through ticket applications. The aspirants were required to Rs 25,000 each as fee with application (Rs 15,000 for reserved category). It was difficult to pay the amount of Rs 20 lakh in one go otherwise,” Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu told The Statesman.
Sukhu said Congress had been facing difficulty in managing even the monthly expenses of Rs 4-5 lakh.
“I am sorry to say that the chief minister and the ministers, barring GS Bali, did not financially support the Congress party. I made several requests, but in vain,” the PCC chief said.
Congress sources said All India Congress Committee (AICC), which used to give Rs five lakh to PCC to meet the monthly expenses, withdrew the same when Congress came into power in HP reportedly with an understanding that the government will support the office. However, with Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu taking over as Congress President, sources said, the government support did not trickle in, for the CM and Sukhu never got along well in the political field within Congress.
All this, however, made the state Congress mobilise Congress supporters in the entire state, who used to contribute regularly for meeting the party office expenditure. A core team of 15 persons with PCC handled the issue to work out financial support.
Besides changing the format this time to get all the details of applicants, whether property or background, in writing for discussion during ticket distribution, the PCC raised the application money for ticket from Rs 5,000 in 2012 to Rs 25,000 in 2017.
“Still the response was good. The aspirants doubled from 200 to 400 over the last election and the party has mobilised much more amount this time from applicants to run the show,” said an office bearer of PCC.