Filling up of the void is not going to be easy
Dharmashala | TNR
The filling up of the void left in the Congress with the death of its stalwart Virbhadra Singh is not going to be an easy task for party high command.
Congress in troubled waters
Leadership deficit in the Congress party has not just surfaced due to the demise of Virbhadra Singh. It has been a long-pending unaddressed crisis in the party. Lack of discipline, inability to understand the mood of the public and leadership tussle now have landed the party in troubled waters.
Leadership issue not plaguing BJP
In stark contrast, there appears to be no leadership issue in BJP. The recent Cabinet reshuffle that necessitated a spate of resignations by Union ministers to pave the way for new entrants, clearly showed who is in command.
The Cabinet reshuffle also indicated that BJP high command sensed the changing mood of the public post the Covid second wave disaster. The party went on to violate its own principle of minimum government–maximum governance by opting for a jumbo cabinet, only to ensure maximum inclusion.
Congress party’s unproductive meeting
The recent political affairs committee meeting of Himachal Pradesh Congress proved to be unproductive and meaningless for the party workers, leaders, and trouble for the resort where the meeting took place.
The show was so mismanaged that instead of the predeclared 50 participants, nearly 300 landed up created chaos at the hotel, where the meeting was convened.
Former state minister Sudhir Sharma, who had put up a bad show in municipal corporation elections held recently, placed his hoardings near the hotel and brought his supporters to impress the party in charge for Himachal Pradesh, Rajeev Shukla.
Belligerent leaders of the party from Fatehpur gathered at the gates of the resort to raise slogans against Bhawani Pathania, son of former minister Sujan Singh Pathania, who is being projected by the party as a candidate for Fatehpur bypolls.
In addition to this, GS Bali, a long-time contender of the chief minister post, ended up estranging other party leaders who went on to boycott his dinner party which was hosted by him for Rajeev Shukla at his residence in Kangra town.
Unity a far cry
Rajeev Shukla failed to unite the different factions of Congress in Dharamshala, the political capital of the hill state. Rather, he went on to attend events hosted by party leaders individually.
Bali hosted a dinner for Shukla, Kangra’s Congress MLA Pawan Kajal hosted tea, former minister Sudhir Sharma hosted breakfast and another faction of Congress in Dharamshala headed by former Mayor of the Municipal Corporation, Devender Jaggi, hosted a tea party for Shukla. Mukesh Agnihotri, leader of the opposition, hosted a lunch party for Shukla in his home district Una.
Fight for leadership in state
Political experts are of the view that that with Virbhadra Singh’s demise, the leadership fight will be primarily between Agnihotri and Bali. Agnihotri is said to have the backing of leaders like Sudhir Sharma, Dalhousie MLA Asha Kumari and the family of Virbhadra Singh. Bali, on the other hand, had not opened his cards yet.
Even as Virbhadra Singh was in a critical state in Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, Sudhir Sharma and Asha Kumari had met Agnihotri at his home in Una district and later met Virbhadra’s son Vikramaditya with other party leaders in Shimla. Agnihotri, as it appears, has the support of Virbhadra loyalists, unlike Bali.