Anxiety in BJP over move to make Virbhadra Himachal Congress chief (Himachal Pradesh Newsletter)

August 25th, 2012 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Shimla, Aug 25 (IANS) There is anxiety in the ruling BJP in Himachal Pradesh with the Congress likely to appoint former chief minister Virbhadra Singh as the party’s state chief ahead of the assembly polls due in December.

BJP leaders, hoping for the party to win the polls again, feel Virbhadra Singh’s appointment can make things difficult for them.

“Most of the BJP leaders are anxious about the appointment. Top government functionaries have been asked to keep a tab on the developments in Delhi,” a political observer, who did not want to be named, told IANS Saturday.

Even state cabinet ministers are enquiring from mediapersons about the appointment.

There have been unconfirmed reports since Thursday of Virbhadra Singh’s appointment to the post. But there has been no official word.

Supporters of Virbhadra Singh, including more than 10 legislators, have been camping in New Delhi awaiting the formal announcement.

They say the announcement will be made after the Congress high command decided on leadership changes in other states too.

Politicians in the state feel that Virbhadra Singh, who is in the race for the chief minister’s post, is the only leader who can bring the Congress back to power.

“He is a mass leader. This is what party’s top bosses knows. Despite his aggressive posture and bargaining too much from him and his supporters, the party is tolerating him. At this point in time, the party is not in a position to annoy him,” a Congress leader, who did not want to be named, told IANS.

Virbhadra Singh, a former union minister, had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi twice Tuesday, expressing his unhappiness over party’s affairs in the state.

But Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, commenting on speculations on the appointment, said it was unfortunate that Congress did not repose faith in other leaders.

“If a person who is facing charges of corruption heads the party, it will be easy for the BJP to score a win in the elections,” he told reporters in Dharamsala Friday.

But Dhumal’s aides say he is not keen to face Virbhadra Singh in the polls.

“Dhumal knows that Virbhadra Singh can take him head-on. If he returns to state politics with some authority, it will not be a cakewalk for him (Dhumal),” a BJP leader, not wanting to be named, said.

To make his presence felt in the state, Virbhadra Singh, 76, popularly known as Raja Saab, has held several rallies.

In these rallies, where he received overwhelming response, the five-time chief minister has been critical of his own party leaders.

He said the leaders had failed to take the BJP government head on. He even accused them of playing a friendly match with the BJP.

Though elections to the 68-member assembly are due in December, they are likely to be held in November.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at

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