Congress trio out to claim Virbhadra legacy
Considered close to former CM Virbhadra Singh, the trio of the leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, a former minister during Congress regime and party national secretary Sudhir Sharma, and Dalhousie MLA Asha Kumari, is said to have got together in Una recently to take up mission 2022 as a team.
Himachal Pradesh assembly elections are still a good year and a half away, but it is being considered the right time by three Congress bigwigs in the state to start making moves on the political chessboard.
Considered close to former Chief Minister (CM) Virbhadra Singh, the trio of the leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, a former minister during Congress regime and party national secretary Sudhir Sharma, and Dalhousie MLA Asha Kumari, is said to have got together in Una recently to take up mission 2022 as a team.
The legacy of the former CM is up for grabs, considering that Virbhadra Singh has been ailing and politically inactive since 2017. Agnihotri's meetings last week with former minister Kaul Singh and former CM's son and MLA Vikramaditya Singh in Shimla and with local Congress leaders in Solan are considered to be part of the political script aimed at regaining power in 2022. Of course, the official reason for the meetings is being touted as a move to strengthen the Congress party.
If highly placed sources in Congress are to be believed then one of the reasons behind the trio's newfound affinity and political moves is the rising popularity of Kangra district heavyweight Congress leader and former minister GS Bali. Last month, the party high command had made Bali the head of the Corona relief committee and given him a free hand.
Bali had aligned himself with party state president Kuldip Singh Rathore to manage the committee work, following which the trio had unofficially distanced itself from the committee. The trio's next move was to start getting together supporters of Virbhadra Singh. While many heavyweight party leaders were present during a couple of meetings held in June last year, this time around many of those leaders are not to be seen around in the meetings being held of late.
The current political moves are actually being seen as a leadership tussle before the 2022 assembly polls.
The party group aligned to Virbhadra Singh had gone to Delhi to pressurize the party high command to remove the party's state president Kuldip Rathore. However, Rathore got a breather with Virbhadra Singh stepping up in his support. As a counter move, the group led by Sukhvinder Singh Sukhhu, MLA from Nadaun assembly constituency of Hamirpur district and former party president of the state, had been trying to engineer the removal of Agnihotri as the leader of the Opposition. Sukhhu, also a CM aspirant, is considered to be a political ally of Bali and was active between 2012 and 2018, in his capacity of state party president, against Virbhadra Singh.
In the recently held municipal elections in four cities, the two groups had tried to upstage each other. Currently, the Bali group and Virbhadra group are engaged in a poster war.