Ahead of assembly elections, the visit of Rahul Gandhi is being seen as a step to bridge the divide among top leaders in the state.
Factionalism within Congress is posing question mark over party’s claim to reclaim the power in the coming elections. According to sources, Rahul Gandhi will be on a two-day visit to Himachal Pradesh beginning June 27.
Rahul Gandhi will reach Kullu on June 27 and hold discussions with Congress workers and then he will come to Shimla on June 28 to participate in another meeting.
In Himachal Pradesh Congress is witnessing veritical split with workers and leaders divided in camps headed by union minister Virbhadra Singh on one side and state Congress president Kaul Singh-union minister Anand Sharma on other side.
Factionalism within Congress has already resulted into defeat in the Shimla municipal corporation elections where party lost the posts of mayor and deputy mayor to CPI (M) after 26 years. Earlier, party president Sonia Gandhi had called warring factions of congress to Delhi for meeting but even after that rivals have failed to join hands.
Now the visit of Rahul Gandhi is being seen as a step to unite the divided leaders. While the Anand Sharma and Kaul Singh Thakur led group is trying to keep Virbhadra Singh away from state politics, the supporters of latter have planned a massive rally at Ice Skating Rink at Shimla on June 23 to commemorate his 78 birth anniversary and completion of 50 years in politics.
Close associates of Virbhadra Singh claimed that on June 23 around 50,000 supporters from different parts of state would reach Shimla to participate in the celebrations. “Saturday’s rally would prove that Virbhadra Singh is undisputed leader of Congress party in the state and without projecting him as chief ministerial candidate, party can not win the coming assembly election,” said a senior leader close to Virbhadra Singh.
In April this year, union minister Virbhadra Singh and state party president Kaul Singh Thakur and union minister Anand Sharma had held separate meetings in Shimla and Palampur which had exposed the differences among them before public. Seeing that senior party leaders were not ready to extend olive branch to each other, young Congress MLAs from Himachal Pradesh in April this year had written a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi requesting her to bring together all senior leaders to ensure party’s victory in the coming election.
The letter signed by around 18 Congress MLAs is an attempt to unite the faction ridden Congress in Himachal Pradesh.