Shimla, July 12: Even as Transport Minister GS Bali yesterday said the Assembly elections would be fought under the leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and collective state leadership, he remained evasive on the question whether he would join the BJP.
A reticent Bali, who is normally very open, declined to give a direct reply in view of the speculation that he was set to join the BJP. “Like anyone else, I too cannot look into the future. As of now, I am a minister in the Congress government and performing my duties honestly and to the best of my ability,” was his diplomatic reply.
He, however, added that political tinge should not be given to personal relations which anybody was free to have across the social spectrum.Bali is known for having good relations with some of the BJP stalwarts, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Union Minister Birender Chaudhary. It is this proximity which has led to speculation that he could desert the Congress to join hands with the BJP in the Assembly polls due later this year. Without specifying the reason, he said he would open his cards only after August 17.
Amidst souring of ties between Virbhadra Singh and Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, the new-found friendship between Bali and former Minister Vijai Singh Mankotia has led to a lot of political speculation about pre-election realignments.
“He is my neighbour as he used to represent the adjoining constituency and in difficult times one does inquire about the other person’s well being,” is all he had to say about his meeting Mankotia. He added that he was neither consulted when Mankotia taken into the Congress nor when he was expelled.
Bali was emphatic in stating that the Assembly elections would be fought under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi but when prodded about the state leader who will lead the party, he said it would be collective leadership as a number of committees, including campaign, publicity and manifesto, would be set up.
“Virbhadra Singh is the tallest leader with a lot of experience but the Congress has a number of committees which take care of the campaign,” he added. He said as far as corruption charges faced by the Chief Minister were concerned, he still had not exhausted all his legal options.
When asked about the reasons for the Congress failing to capture the Shimla Municipal Corporation in the elections, Bali said it was solely due to lack of coordination. “However, I can say one thing with certainty that the elections would be held very peacefully as Himachal is Dev Bhoomi and there can be no question of Bihar-style polls here,” he insisted.
Source: Tribune India