On Virbhadra turning 76, Congress factionalism surfaces

Shimla: It was the birthday bash of union steel minister Virbhadra Singh that was celebrated with gusto at his residence here today, which brought out the prevailing factionalism in the congress legislative party to the fore.

Whereas many congressmen made a call to greet the veteran leader, it was in newspaper advertisements with photographs of 18 MLAs led by senior leader GS Bali and Gangu Ram Musafir publically announcing their greetings that set alarm bells ringing.

Conspicuously those missing in the advertisement included congress legislative party leader Vidya Stokes and state party president Kaul Singh Thakur. Three other MLA’s missing in the list were Rajesh Dharmani, Sukhwinder Sukku and Anil Sharma.

Commenting upon the advertisements placed in vernacular papers, a Stokes supporter said, “by displaying 18 of the 23 congress MLAs, an clever attempt has been made to demonstrate support for the union steel minister among the party men.”

However a Virbhadra supporter dismissed it saying that having remained chief minister for 17 long years, MLA’s greeting the steel minister on his birthday was normal and nothing much needed to be read into the incident.

Sources disclosed that with elections to the state party president position due soon, factionalism was getting intense as the Virbhadra group makes efforts to dislodge Kaul Singh and Stokes for the party’s state leadership.

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