Shimla: The rift between Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal and another party leader Shanta Kumar has widened, with the latter accusing the state’s BJP government of corruption.
Last week, Shanta Kumar, BJP’s national vice-president and former Himachal chief minister, told reporters at Dharamsala: “Some of them (party leaders) are living in the intoxication of power, others who have accumulated a lot of wealth are least bothered about others. The government should go for some drastic steps to check corruption.
“Without a strong cleansing operation on the pattern of the neighbouring states (Punjab) where four ministers were removed (before the assembly polls), the party is not going to return to power in the next election,” he added.
“Shantaji will always be consulted on all important issues. But it would have been better if he had expressed his views on a party platform rather than going to the media,” state BJP chief Satpal Satti said reacting to Shanta Kumar’s statement.
State BJP leaders, who did want to be named, said Kumar was miffed at Dhumal for not taking note of the issues he had raised and sidelining his two loyalist ministers and three legislators.
Kumar had also accused Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur (a Lok Sabha member) of corruption and illegal land deals during his meeting with BJP president Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi Feb 8, said the leaders.
They said Kumar also told Gadkari that for two years, he had not attended the state executive meetings since BJP had never tried to stem corruption within the party.
In April, Kumar did not turn up for a ‘Mission Repeat’ meeting in Shimla called to discuss the party’s strategy for the assembly polls scheduled later this year.
Dhumal later went to Kumar’s house in Palampur and tried to sort out the differences.
He also persuaded Kumar to attend a party function. But Kumar refused to budge, saying he would not involve himself in the party’s affairs till the issues he had raised were addressed.
A Kumar loyalist said the leader was also upset over several BJP members joining in February the Himachal Lokhit Party formed by Maheshwar Singh, a former member of parliament.
Kumar also did not like Dhumal trying to take back the Annandale Grounds from the army’s possession to build a cricket stadium and had asked party leaders not to make statements against the armed forces.
“National security is more important than a cricket ground,” Kumar had said.