Internal feds have intensified in both the ruling BJP and Opposition Congress in Himachal Pradesh over the past few days.
On Friday, some members of BJP circulated a video highlighting an alleged rivalry between party MLA from Jwalamukhi Ramesh Dhawala and the state organisational secretary Pawan Rana. Meanwhile, the recently held state youth Congress elections have brought to the fore tensions among various party leaders and factions.
BJP’s Dhawala and Rana have been at loggerheads for long, said sources. In June, Dhawala publicly alleged interference in the political affairs of his constituency by Rana, and asked the latter to stick to organisational matters. Even though the MLA later backtracked on his statement, the differences allegedly still remain.
On October 30, state party president Suresh Kashyap dissolved the entire Jwalamukhi block of the party, allegedly as a result of the ongoing feud. Several office-bearers of Dehra organisational district, including its vice-president and secretary, as well as three Yuva Morcha and Mahila Morcha leaders, were divested of their responsibilities, allegedly due to “indiscipline” and for publicly speaking against the party, as per an order by Kashyap. The conflict sees no sign of abating, with a video from Nagrota Bagwan now doing the rounds in which some villagers claim to have been caught between the rivalry of the two leaders.
Trouble within the BJP is not limited to the Dhawala-Rana feud. In late September, party chief whip and MLA from Jubbal-Kotkhai Narinder Bragta had met Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and complained about some political leaders unnecessarily interfering in his constituency and conspiring to weaken him politically. In a press release, Bragta hinted that these leaders were from his own party and that their actions could be dangerous for the organisation.
Elsewhere on the political spectrum, the state Congress, too, is struggling to overcome factionalism. In June, an alleged closed-door meeting of a faction led by Kaul Singh Thakur and Nadaun MLA Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, both former presidents of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), was widely reported by the local media. The participants of the meeting held in Mandi reportedly criticised the current functioning of the HPCC.
Tensions among various groups within the party subsequently arose, forcing general secretary Rajneesh Kimta to issue an advisory to all party members against “sheer indiscipline” and “anti-party activities”.
Nevertheless, a few days later, Congress leaders Rangeela Ram Rao and Tek Chand Dogra publicly accused another party leader of giving out “anaap shanaap” statements. Eventually, the then in-charge of Congress affairs in the state Rajani Patil stepped in, and took stern note of Congress leaders leveling allegations and counter-allegations against each other through the press. She warned all members against raising internal matters of the party in the media.
Recently, internal elections for the state Youth Congress were held online, involving around 1.2 lakh voters in the state. The president is yet to be selected by the party from among the three candidates who polled the most votes. But the elections seem to have intensified factionalism among party leaders who allegedly backed their respective candidates. A credit battle has also surfaced, with a party leader competing with another over getting public credit for having “mentored” the majority of successful candidates.
The BJP and Congress are the two main political parties in the state, holding 65 of the 68 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The remaining three seats are held by one CPI(M) and two independent MLAs.
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