Virbhadra gets a jolt as AICC stays expulsions, sets up 3-member panel

In a major setback for PCC president Virbhadra Singh ahead of the Assembly poll results, the Congress High Command effectively intervened and stayed the expulsions of 25 party leaders on Tuesday. Singh had ordered the expulsions a few days after polling.

The decision had caused a major rift in the party with many party leaders criticising the move as an act of personal vendetta to settle scores.

On Tuesday, AICC general secretary Birender Singh announced the setting-up of a three-member committee comprised of former PCC presidents, Vidya Stokes, Viplove Thakur and Kuldeep Kumar, to hold an enquiry into the circumstances that led to the expulsions.

"The AICC has received various representations and complaints from Congress functionaries from the block to state level. Those who have been either suspended ,expelled or removed, have alleged that they were not given any proper notice and no proper procedure was adopted as per the party's constitution," Birender Singh said in a statement issued here.

He added that the three-member committee has been given three weeks to submit its report. "Meanwhile all PCC orders pertaining to suspension, expulsion and removal of the party functionaries after November 4,2012 are being stayed till further orders," Birender said.

The development comes after some of the expelled leaders, district Congress leaders and former PCC president Kaul Singh Thakur lodged a strong protest with the AICC general secretary and other central leaders, including Union Ministers Anand Sharma and Chandresh Kumari.

Most of the suspended leaders were accused of working against the official candidates in the constituencies of Shimla (Urban), Sulah, Dharamshala, Rampur and Rohru — where Virbhadra's loyalists had contested.

The Shimla (Urban) DCC has particularly been aggressive against the PCC and has even targeted party vice-president Harsh Mahajan. It has also alleged that a coterie around Virbhadra Singh was working against Congress interests.

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