Virbhadra meets Rahul Gandhi in Delhi; Sukhu begins ticket process in Shimla
THE CM, WHO HAS REPEATEDLY INSISTED PARTY HIGH COMMAND TO REMOVE SUKHU, IS UPSET WITH PARTY’S FIRMNESS ON ‘ONE FAMILY ONE TICKET’ FORMULA
SHIMLA : Himachal Pradesh chief minister (CM) Virbhadra Singh met All India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi amid Congress high command’s efforts to mollify the octogenarian leader seeking a free hand in ticket distribution in Himachal.
The party has even refused to relent to his main demand to remove state Congress president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who initiated the process for ticket on Friday.
Virbhadra, who was accompanied by AICC general secretary in-charge Shushil Kumar Shinde and his deputy, AICC secretary Ranjeet Ranjan, apprised party high command about his reservation against the party.
The meeting lasted nearly one hour. Later in the evening, Shinde and Ranjan had another round of meeting with the CM at a guest house in Delhi. The two leaders are likely to apprise Rahul Gandhi on the negotiations with Virbhadra.
The CM, who has repeatedly insisted party high command to remove Sukhu, is also upset with the party’s firmness on ‘one family one ticket’ formula that it implied in the Punjab assembly elections.
He even projected state youth Congress president and ghis son Vikramaditya Singh as a candidate from his Shimla rural assembly segment three days ago, while keeping his option of contesting election openly. Sources said that party may relax conditions for Virbhadra and his son Vikramaditya.
Moreover, the chief minister is also noticeably annoyed with the party for not defending him during repeated attacks from opposition parties for targeting him over corruption cases.
He also seeks a lion’s share in ticket distribution and is keen to get tickets for leaders owing allegiance to him and his son Vikramaditya, who made efforts to increase his clout in the state.
Meanwhile, state party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu initiated process for tickets in the Congress on Friday. This is for first time that those aspiring for a ticket will have to shell out Rs 25,000 while applying.
Sukhu, who returned to state capital after a three-day long path yatra along with Shinde, released performa for applicants. The fees is less for candidates seeking tickets from assembly constituencies reserved for scheduled caste and schedule tribe and they will have to pay Rs 15,000.
However, those falling in the BPL (below poverty line) category, will not have to pay anything. Theperformaseeksdetails on performance in the party, income of family members and also criminal records, if any.
“We are only seeking information (about criminal cases) and the decision will be taken by the party high command,” he said.
Even as bickering between the two leaders reached a crescendo, Sukhu said on Friday that Virbhadra will head the committee overseeing the poll campaign and he himself will oversee poll preparations. “I would lead the party and the CM as the head of the state government will lead the campaign for elections. We have done an internal survey that projects victory for the Congress,” said Sukhu.
“There were a lot of speculations that leads from the party will join the BJP but nothing of that sort has happened so far,” he added, accusing the BJP of failing to play a healthy opposition. “They just tried to play the role of fortune tellers,” he said.