Even as the Congress is working on a please-all formula to placate all sections of faction-ridden party unit in Himachal Pradesh,the crisis seems to have deepened with incumbent PCC president Kaul Singh Thakur demanding that he be made the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader – a post currently held by party veteran Vidya Stokes.
The new problem cropped up after Virbhadra and Thakur – who are at daggers drawn over distribution of tickets in the upcoming elections – met party chief Sonia Gandhi this week. As the party high command assured five-tme chief minister Virbhadra that he will be made the PCC president,sidelined Thakur placed the demand that he be made the CLP leader. This has put Stokes,a foe-turned-ally of Virbhdara,in a spot.
However,the veteran leader is in no mood to relinquish the post especially as the monsoon session of the Assembly is scheduled to begin on Monday. Stokes who was in Delhi supporting Virbhadra and had reached Shimla a day ago,rushed back to the National Capital present her case.
The veteran leader has support of three MLAs – Sukhwinder Sukhu,Rajesh Dharmani and Rakesh Kalia – but not any party heavyweights. On the other hand,Thakur is being backed by AICC general secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Himachal Birender Singh and Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma.
AICC sources said,Stokes may be offered organizational role at national level or made a governor – a post which she was offered twice earlier.
Stokes,who was once Virbhadras bitter political foe,had recently lent support to the former CM in his fight against Thakurs chief ministerial ambition. This,however,led to her losing the support of all the Virbhadra detractors.
Insiders say party wants to make Thakur the CLP leader to give a proper representation to both parts of the state. It will also be a consolation prize for Thakur who had worked hard to stem the party infighting.
After all,what is Thakurs fault that he be removed (from the post of PCC president) at a time when elections are just months away and the Congress has (realistic) chances of forming the next government. Its a different issue that we also want Virbhadra to ensure partys return to power , Birender Singh told the party leaders in Delhi.