With the crisis in Himachal Congress blowing over, some senior Congress leaders have started hoping state chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu will resign voluntarily in the interest of the party and ensure Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh leads the campaign and contests.
Former president of the Congress ex-servicemen cell Capt Praveel Davar today said a compromise in Himachal Pradesh Congress affairs was possible provided the state unit chief acts in party interest. He also tweeted about it. “Compromise is possible. May be Sukhu can take the initiative and offer to step down in party interest,” he said. Not just Davar, a section of senior Congress leadership feels the only way out of the existing problem in the state is for Sukhu to go voluntarily. “That is all one can hope for,” said a Congress leader here after AICC general secretary Himachal ruled out removal of Sukhu as state chief.
Some Congress leaders said there has been precedent of leaders stepping down in party interest when the party is caught in a difficult situation. “Even in 2012 when Virbhadra Singh had put the party in a spot and threatened to quit if the then state chief Kaul Singh Thakur was not removed, Thakur exited voluntarily and resigned to make way for Virbhadra Singh,” a Congress leader recalled saying Virbhadra Singh has created a similar situation for the party again by saying he will neither lead the campaign nor contest if Sukhu stayed.
Although the Chief Minister met Congress president Sonia Gandhi recently, there has been no breakthrough in sight. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, “Everything that had to be settled has been settled in a meeting chaired by Congress vice president. Shinde gave a report and all issues have been discussed and settled.” Singhvi refused to comment on the Chief Minister’s remarks that the Congress needed to change the way it worked and said, “Please ask the Chief Minister what he means by that. If he has some constructive suggestion he can give it,” Singhvi said.
A quick look into the history of Himachal Congress shows Virbhadra Singh has had troubles adjusting with most states chiefs be it Kaul Singh Thakur, Viplove Thakur, others and now Sukhu. The Chief Minister may want his own confidant as state chief ahead of elections to have a larger say in ticket distribution. But his rivals in the party say that in 2012 the Chief Minister got a larger share in tickets than them but both the camps won equal number of seats. “In 2012 polls, Virbhadra Singh had a say in distributing 42 seats and he managed to win 18. The rest of the camp got 26 seats and won 18,” a leader said.
Even in 2012 when Virbhadra Singh had put the party in a spot and threatened to quit if the then state chief Kaul Singh Thakur was not removed, Thakur exited voluntarily to make way for Virbhadra Singh.