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Storm brewing in HPCC bastion ??

AICC general secretary Sushil Kumar Shinde received a glimpse of bickering within the Himachal Congress on the very first day today of his arrival here as Virbhadra loyalists raised slogans against state Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, demanding his removal. The deep chasm between the Chief Minister and HPCC president Sukhu was at full display, the moment Shinde arrived at Tourism Hotel Peterhoff on a two-day visit to the state. Shinde has just been handed over the reins of the poll-bound Himachal and this is his first visit since being entrusted with the responsibility.Shinde will interact with the HPCC State Executive office-bearers at Congress Bhawan tomorrow and later in the evening he will be present at the meeting of the Congress Legislature party (CLP). Virbhadra loyalists raised slogans like “Sukhu hatao, Pradesh bachao” in the presence of Virbhadra, Irrigation and Public Health Minister Vidya Stokes, Chief Parliamentary Secretary Nand Lal and other senior party leaders. Immediately after alighting from the vehicle, Shinde tried to pacify the agitated workers. “Indiscipline will not be tolerated and my task is to take everyone along. I have remained president of the Maharashtra Congress and Chief Minister and I know how to deal with those who create indiscipline,” said a visibly upset Shinde.Virbhadra loyalists, led by Harsh Mahajan, demanded that there should be a single leadership in the party at a time when the state was all set to go to the polls. A delegation of chairmen and vice -chairmen also met Shinde. Now it remains to be seen to what extent Shinde will be able to forge unity in the party. The internal strife within the Congress has intensified in the last three months with Virbhadra continuously seeking the removal of Sukhu, who has been heading the party for almost four-and-a-half years. His loyalists, including ministers and party legislators, have met the high command, seeking the replacement of Sukhu. The CM yesterday only remarked that there was lack of coordination between the party and the government.On the other hand, six legislators, including two Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS), had recently sought the removal of Virbhadra from the Chief Minister’s chair, especially in the wake of inept handling of the rape and murder of the 16-year-old Kotkhai girl. Both Virbhadra and Sukhu have been taking signatures of MLAs to show to the high command that they enjoyed the support of majority elected representatives. However, this tussle would not augur well for the party when the elections are barely four months away. “In sharp contrast to the BJP, which is already in the election mode and preparing the blue print for the polls, the bickering between the CM and party president is only harming the party and this must end,” remarked a Congress MLA.

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