Shimla, Aug 26: With the Assembly elections barely three months away, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh sprung a surprise by declaring that he had no intentions of contesting the Assembly elections, considering the state of affairs in the Congress party. It was at the Congress Legislature party (CLP) meeting today that the party MLAs saw a very emotional Virbhadra declare that he was not keen to contest the election.
“Whatever I am today is because of the party which has given me everything. I wish to retire from politics gracefully,” he said. In fact, Virbhadra, while exchanging pleasantries with Leader of Opposition PK Dhumal after the Assembly session got over, said that he would not be in the next House as he would not be contesting the election. “I will not be in the election arena but all the best to you,” he said after he exchanged a handshake with not just Dhumal but all other BJP legislators after walking across to their tables in the Assembly.
Without naming anyone, he did express his displeasure at the state of affairs in the party. “I do not wish to be belittled any more within the party as everyone seems to be going his own way,” he remarked. He is learnt to have stated that he has conveyed his feelings to the party high command as well. Many Congress legislators, including Industry Minister Mukesh Agnihotri, Asha Kumari and Sanjay Rattan, urged the Chief Minister to lead the party in the elections. “In case anybody needs me to campaign, I will be available,” he assured.
Virbhadra, who has never seen eye to eye with state Congress president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, has been adamant on a new person heading the party. Many Congress legislators remarked that by stating that he was not keen to contest the election, the Chief Minister was trying to exert pressure on the high command to accede to his demand.
Virbhadra also advised the party legislators to adopt an aggressive stance and move to the field. “Our government has done a lot of work but we seem to be lacking in publicizing the good work. So reach out to the people and counter the BJP propaganda,” was his advice to the MLAs. Party sources said Virbhadra, besides wanting his own man to head the party, is also upset and hurt at the party legislators not coming out openly in his defence and that of the government when under attack from the BJP during the last three days of the session.
Source Tribune India