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Monday, July 23, 2018

Ahead of HP polls, Congress makes it mandatory for candidates to furnish property, criminal details

The performa was released on the same day Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh arrived in New Delhi to meet party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla | Published: September 29, 2017 10:35:53 pm
 Virbhadra Singh, Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections, Sukhwinder Singh, Congress, Sonia Gandhi, India news, Indian Express Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. (PTI Photo/File)

The Congress on Friday released a performa ahead of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, making it mandatory for candidates interested in contesting the elections to divulge details of their property, sources of income — self as well as family members — and information on any offences committed, FIRs against them, pending trials or convictions. The performa was released on the same day Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh arrived in New Delhi to meet party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

With the Congress still trying to reach a compromise between Singh and state party chief Sukhwinder Sukhu, it is speculated that the release of the performa was the latter’s hardball to Singh. The Chief Minister is currently being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a disproportionate assets case and a money laundering case respectively. Last month, Singh made it clear he would not share the stage with Sukhu.

“From tomorrow, anyone interested in contesting the next Assembly election on the party’s ticket — small or big leader — will have to apply on an approved performa along with a fee of Rs 25000. Those falling in the SC/ST category will pay only Rs 15000. Those in IRDP category will not be required to pay any application fee,” Sukhu said. The last day for filing applications is October 5.

The performa requires candidates to declare information regarding family members, association and membership in the Congress, the number of elections contested on a party ticket, whether the candidate has been expelled for anti-party activities, among other things.

The second page of the performa reads, for instance, “Have you or your family members been convicted for any offence or any case/FIR which has been filed against you. If yes, please give details below and enclose details report along with this form.”

“I am just doing my job and I remain fully accountable to the high command for all my actions/inactions and effort/non-efforts to strengthen the party. The chief minister is the most respected Congress leader, enjoying a high stature. I never challenged his position, and standing in the state. Yes, there are differences between us on some issues, but it will be resolved before the polls,” Sukhu said, when asked about the Singh’s position against him.

When asked who will be the face of the party ahead of the polls, Sukhu added, “… as chief minister it is certainly Virbhadra Singh ji who is prime face of the Congress, having led the government.” He added, “Similarity, as PCC president, I am there as the organisational chief. Unitedly, we will lead the party to the polls.”

Sukhu rejected Singh’s suggestion that only an elected person can head the party. He said, “I am also elected as delegate of the AICC as is the chief minister. I have gone through a hard and long struggle to reach this post.”

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