Aditi Tandon & Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service
New Delhi/Shimla, March 22
Changes in the Himachal Pradesh Congress organisation appear imminent. Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met senior leaders from the state for two hours and urged them to stay united.
As many as 24 Himachal leaders attended the meeting at Sonia Gandhi’s residence this evening. A majority of them pressed for an overhaul of the state organisation and the appointment of a new party president to energise the cadres ahead of the Assembly elections due later this year.
A section of leaders is also learnt to have told Sonia Gandhi “to make quick decisions whatever these may be.”
“Some leaders were of the opinion that whatever the Congress president wants to do, she should do quickly, whether it is revamping the party organisation. She should end the state of uncertainty, as this can harm the party’s prospects as Punjab has shown,” a source privy to the developments said. He added that the Himachal Congress reorganisation was high on the party’s priority list in the wake of the losses in two states bordering Himachal (BJP won Uttarakhand for the second time in a row while AAP wrested Punjab from the Congress).
The gathering also discussed the potential impact of AAP, which has announced its intentions to contest the Himachal elections in a big way, after its resounding win in Punjab.
“Everyone agreed that it cannot be business as usual and although the Congress has a solid base in Himachal having been the party responsible for the creation of the state, we cannot take our rivals lightly. There was unanimity on the urgency for a clear poll strategy to counter AAP though the Congress won all recent byelections in the state,” a leader, who attended the meeting, said. He added that strategies were discussed in the light of the fact that all three states bordering Himachal were being ruled by either BJP or AAP (BJP in Uttarakhand and Haryana and AAP in Punjab).
The leaders called for an early constitution of all poll-related committees to signal the party’s battle readiness in the state. Some of them said that they sensed a change as early as within 10 days. The sources said that Sonia stressed the need to project the youth.
Rahul Gandhi was earlier scheduled to meet the Himachal leaders but Sonia chaired the meeting eventually amid repeated calls by G-23 veterans to keep the chain of command in the Congress clear.
AICC in-charge of Himachal affairs Rajeev Shukla and two AICC secretaries for the state; Himachal Congress chief Kuldeep Rathore, Leader of the Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, former PCC chiefs Kaul Singh Thakur, Thakur Ram Lal, Viplove Thakur, senior Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma, nine sitting MLAs, including Asha Kumari and Sukhwinder Sukhu; AICC secretary Raghubir Singh Bali and all candidates who contested the 2019 parliamentary elections, including Pratibha Singh, who won the Mandi Lok Sabha byelection, attended the meeting.
Stress laid on overhaul of state party unit
- As many as 24 state leaders attended the meeting at Sonia Gandhi’s residence.
- A majority of them pressed for an overhaul of the state party organisation.
- Likely impact of AAP on the Himachal poll was discussed.
- The leaders called for early constitution of all poll-related committees to signal the party’s battle readiness.