A day after Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh and state Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu engaged in heated exchanges at a meeting convened by the party high command to resolve differences between the two, a dozen-odd Congress MLAs owing allegiance to the CM met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday and demanded a change of guard in the organisation, sources said. Sukhu, too, is learnt to have met Rahul.
Sources said the MLAs, including former Speaker Ganguram Musafir, wanted Sukhu to be replaced by a Dalit leader. They argued that a Rajput-Dalit combination would send a positive message to the electorate in Himachal, where elections are due later this year. Rahul is learnt to have told them a solution would be found in two-three days.
The meeting Monday was convened by AICC general secretary Ambika Soni. Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was also present. Both Virbhadra and Sukhu came to the meeting armed with signatures. The CM had signatures of 18 office-bearers and heads of frontal organisations while Sukhu had signatures of 24 out of the 35 MLAs.
According to sources, the two leaders differed on the issue of organisational elections. The leadership reportedly deferred to Virbhadra’s demand of postponing the internal polls. Virbhadra was also aggrieved over some appointments made by Sukhu. It was decided that the proposal for postponement of internal polls would be sent to Sonia, sources said. It was also decided that Virbhadra’s grievances would be addressed. Sukhu will, however, continue as PCC president.