Congress may not act against Virbhadra

Congress may not act against Virbhadra

Despite the BJP going on an overdrive, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh may not face action from the Congress high command, at least in the near future.

Senior Congress leaders dismissed suggestions of action against Singh who has been battling graft allegations by the BJP, which moved the Election Commission on Wednesday.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley had accused Singh and his wife Pratibha of receiving money from a private power company to grant an extension to its project. Anurag Thakur, president of the youth wing of the BJP, also approached the Election Commission with demand for action against Singh and his wife for “hiding facts”.

In its memorandum to the EC, the BJP has asked it to initiate action “as per law against Singh and his wife for hiding vital information about his income in the affidavits filed before the EC in last Assembly polls and Mandi Lok Sabha by-polls.” The Himachal Pradesh chief minister on Wednesday held meetings with AICC general secretary Ambika Soni, who is in charge of the party affairs in the hill state and senior leader and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, before returning to Shimla.

Congress leaders claimed that the BJP was raking up old allegations against Singh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. They said the project in question was cancelled by the Virbhadra Singh government as promoters failed to obtain necessary clearances. Non-payment of extension fee was another reason for the cancellation.

Following meetings with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, a senior leader said the chief minister did not seek time with either of the two leaders.

It is learnt that the Congress president was under the weather and did not meet anyone on Wednesday.

There was an intense speculation over action against Singh given the Congress vice-president’s no-nonsense stand against corruption. It was Rahul Gandhi’s intervention that forced Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to take steps to review his decision to reject findings of a judicial panel which went into the alleged irregularities in the Adarsh Housing Society case.

Congress leaders indicated that they had enough ammunition against the BJP.
If the Congress decided to replace Virbhadra Singh, it would amount to meek surrender before a resurgent and aggressive BJP. Moreover, Singh, who enjoys strong support of the people and party leaders in the state, may not bow out in silence which would mean trouble for the already beleaguered Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

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