Opposition Congress at receiving end (Himachal Pradesh Newsletter)March 18th, 2012 - 2:21 pm ICT by IANS
Shimla, March 18 (IANS) The opposition Congress in Himachal Pradesh is finding itself at the receiving end after the party’s poor showing in the recently held assembly polls in five states.Cashing it on the Congress debacle, Prem Kumar Dhumal-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is using the defeat as ammunition to retort to Congress allegations of corruption against Health Minister Rajeev Bindal.
At the ongoing budget session, Dhumal has been saying the Congress has lost its bearings after the assembly results.
“The dilemma of the Congress leaders who committed one thing and did another reflects their lack of leadership in the state. It’s a directionless, issueless party,” Dhumal has been saying since the budget session began March 9.
Dhumal Friday asked Leader of Opposition Vidya Stokes in the assembly to provide evidence she reportedly has in her possession regarding Bindal’s illegal property.
“Despite my assurance to the Congress leaders that the government is open to investigate the charges not only against Bindal but against any minister if documents are provided, they have failed to do so. This shows their frustration after their nationwide humiliating defeat,” he said.
“Besides providing documents to me, the Congress is free to approach the Lokayukta. But their delaying tactics indicate that the Congress legislators are not in the control of those at the helm,” the chief minister added.
It was the fifth consecutive day of protest by the opposition in the house Friday over its demand of sacking of Bindal.
BJP state chief Satpal Singh Satti told IANS the disruption of the house on one issue showed the Congress’ desperation after its debacle in the recently held assembly polls.
“The party is in disarray. Its senior leader (union minister) Virbhadra Singh is saying that he is ready for the assembly poll in the state. This indicates factional war within the party,” he said.
Satti said two days ago Dhumal invited Congress leaders, including Stokes, to end the impasse in the house.
“The Congress earlier agreed to a vigilance probe into Bindal’s assets but later backtracked and insisted on a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe and his resignation. They themselves are not clear on their demand,” he added.
Stokes told IANS that the government is neck-deep in corruption. “We will not provide any document to Dhumal against his tainted ministers and government functionaries but will submit a detailed chargesheet to the President of India for recommending a CBI probe.”
Political observers said the Congress, plagued by infighting, has to put its house in order before the assembly’s tenure ends in December.
Even Virbhadra Singh, five-time former chief minister, is critical of his own party leaders.
He has been saying the leaders have failed to take the Dhumal government head-on. He even accused them of playing a “friendly match” with the ruling BJP.
State Congress chief Kaul Singh said: “The results of assembly elections will have no impact on Himachal Pradesh. In Punjab there were some other issues. But here, the BJP government is facing attack from within on corruption.”
“A faction of the BJP has raised its voice against the rampant corruption and resigned from the party and floated a new political outfit. This means there is something wrong in the government,” he added.
Congress insiders say the party’s defeat in Punjab may compel the high command to give more responsibilities to Virbhadra Singh in state affairs ahead of polls.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: assembly poll, assembly polls, bearings, budget session, chief minister, congress leaders, debacle, desperation, disarray, disruption, health minister, leader of opposition, lokayukta, opposition congress, rajeev, satpal singh, satti, state chief, union minister, virbhadra singh