Gadkari fails to broker peace in Shanta-Dhumal feud

Shimla: Drift in ruling BJP has drawn old guard Shanta Kumar and chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal camps apart to the extent that mediation by party president Nitin Gadkari yesterday failed to resolve differences.

Sources privy to the matter disclosed that many of points of contention such as creating new districts, IPH minister Ravinder Ravi’s continuing as a minister in the cabinet, the party unilaterally appointing health minister Rajeev Bindal as party general secretary much to the embarrassment of the government and the chief minister, party MLA Kushiram Balnatah leaked letter to Gadkari, demanding change of state leadership, party high command’s inaction against defiant MP Rajhan Sushant and taking back of dissidents who have floated a separate party.

Both the Shanta and Dhumal camp claimed that no dramatic breakthrough was achieved but some progress was made.

Neither was it expected nor could all have been settled in one meeting,” said a source privy to the deliberations that were held at Gadkari’s behest in Delhi.

While the Shanta camp is said to have pressed for an assurance that no new districts would be created by breaking up Kangra, the ruling faction held on that the while the government had done nothing, people were demanding it.

Making a case for return of former BJP president Maheshwar Singh to the party fold even though he heads the breakaway party Him Lokhit Morcha (HLM), the Dhumal camp is said to have maintained that no one was asked to leave the party.

Stamping out any rebellion in the ranks, the demand raised by Balnatah for a change in state leadership is said to have been trashed by reaffirming the leadership of Dhumal at the meet.

Refraining Ravinder Ravi, the IPH minister from rubbing Shanta camp the wrong way in the dominant Kangra district and the minister outright support for breaking up the large district into smaller ones failed to find any resolution.

Relieving health minister Rajeev Bindal of government responsibilities for party work was conceded as fait accompli but the minister against whom the rival faction has been leveling serious allegations of corruption, being made a party general secretary is said to have only miffed the Shanta faction.

“We are demanding punishment for the tainted but the party is only going about rewarding them,” said a Shanta loyalist.

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