In a first, yet subtle, warning to the Himachal Pradesh government, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mukesh Agnihotri on Thursday told Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur not to let the Sangh pariwar “remote control” his administration. Agnihotri asked the CM to fix his priorities and send a positive signal about the new generational change in state politics and governance.
Participating in the motion of thanks to the Governor’s address, Agnihotri said the Congress had accepted its defeat in the elections and would play the role of a responsible opposition. “The Congress will give the government sufficient time for a new beginning. But, this beginning should remain focused only on development, and not on ‘vendetta politics’ or initiating inquiries or filing FIRs,” the CLP leader said.
His comments come on the backdrop of the BJP government submitting a list of corruption allegations to Governor Acharya Devvrat against the previous Virbhadra Singh-led government.
“You (Jai Ram Thakur) are a gentleman. We know you’re capable too. Whether it’s a political accident or sheer destiny, a change has happened that brought you at the helm of affairs. But, we are gathering a sense that the Sangh (Pariwar) has gained an upper hand. Please keep the remote in your hand and don’t let someone else change the gear of your vehicle without knowing it,” Agnihotri said.
The Congress leader reminded Thakur that BJP’s projected face for the government was someone else (Prem Kumar Dhumal). “Now, what will happen to the promises which he (Dhumal) had made during campaigning, like scrapping of RUSA, benefits of 4.9.14 for the government employees, old pension scheme, barrier-free borders and not allowing apple orchardists to be axed?” Agnihotri asked.
Lauding Virbhadra Singh, Agnihotri said the former CM should be given full credit for running the government successfully without crying over lack of funds. He said with barely two weeks in power, the CM had started raising alarms on the state’s poor fiscal health. “It’s time for you to get a bail-out package from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The people will remember you for this,” the Congress leader said.
He also questioned the government over mass transfers of some officials ordered during the assembly session. The CLP leader also asked the CM if there was any pressure on him to reverse the Congress decision on taking over of the Raghunath temple at Kullu. Referring to the CM’s claim that the BJP government in the state would last for the next 20 years, Agnihotri said much would depend on the administration’s performance and conduct. “From the Congress’ point of view, change will certainly come in 2022 again,” he said.
He also asked the government to spell out its plans on the issue of joblessness following its decision to discontinue the unemployment allowance started by the Congress government.