Political appointments by Virbhadra Singh kick up row in HP

Virbhadra Singh

Within a fortnight of his assuming office, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has drawn flak from his rivals in the Congress who have complained to party president Sonia Gandhi over the political appointments made by him, terming it "arbitrary" and "unfair".

So far, half-a-dozen chairman and vice-chairman of boards and corporations have been appointed and most of the people given the plum posts are either defeated Congress MLAs or loyalists of Singh.

The appointees included party vice president Harsh Mahajan, who did not contest HP election, as Chairman of State Co-operative bank, defeated Congress MLAs Ram Lal Thakur, Kuldeep Singh Pathania and Subhash Chand Manglet as Chairman of 20 point programme implementation Committee, Pollution Control Board and Chairman of Agriculture Marketing Board respectively.

Another leader Kewal Singh Pathania, who was denied ticket from Shahpur to accommodate Vijay Singh Mankotia, has been appointed as Vice Chairman of Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), sources said.

The dissidents have reportedly met AICC president Sonia Gandhi and other senior party leaders to convey their dismay and claimed that the "high command has assured to do the needful", sources said.

The dissidents are also sore over denial of berth in HP Cabinet and feel that now their supporters are a being sidelined and ignored.

The rift in the party has cast shadow over selection of HPCC president and also the choice of the nominees for the post of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

Some of the dissident leaders have returned to Delhi while the Chief Minister who also met the high command leaders is schedule to meet Sonia Gandhi on Saturday.

Birender Chaudhary, in-charge of party affairs for Himachal said that the "issue was with the high command after some leaders had met the Congress President over some appointments. The chief minister is yet to meet Sonia. The issue would be sorted out at her level only."

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