Don’t mistake me for Advani, I’m still in the game, defiant Virbhadra tells Congress

Sounding defiant, the former Chief Minister termed the party’s incumbent state leadership (without naming Sukhu) coward.

Sharing platform with Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu at Theog for the first time after last year’s Himachal Assembly polls, former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Friday made it emphatically clear to his party that he was not in the “margdarshak’s role” like BJP seniors L K Adavni and Murli Manohar Joshi.

“Look even today, I am very much active, perhaps you will find me in a better form than many younger ones in the Congress. I can travel places for the party. But, those who are trying to equate me with Advani and Joshi are sadly mistaken. Their dreams will never be fulfilled,” Singh said while attending a meeting of the workers’ of Shimla (rural) district.

Singh, till now, had taken a stand that he will not share the dais with PCC president Sukhu till he was removed from the party post. But, with All-India Congress Committee state in-charge Rajni Patil currently on a seven-day tour to cover all four parliamentary constituencies of Himachal Pradesh, Singh gave up. Singh, however, was reportedly not invited to the meetings at Kangra, Mandi, Kullu and Bilaspur.

Sounding defiant, the former Chief Minister termed the party’s incumbent state leadership (without naming Sukhu) coward.

“Do you call it an act of bravery to hold protests outside the Congress office in Shimla rather taking it to the streets. It’s a cowardly act to hold protests near the party office. Yeh kayarta hai. Hamen lathi, goli khane ki himmat dhikhani chahiye (These are party workers. We should be brave enough to take on lathis and bullets),” he said, giving reasons why the Congress lost power in the state. The former Chief Minister attributed it to wrong distribution of tickets, saying it’s not the BJP, which defeated the party, but the Congress itself. He quoted two glaring examples of Theog and Shimla (Urban) where candidates also lost their security deposits in the poll.

PCC President Sukhu, however, posed a question back to Singh: “Why was the Congress rejected in the polls despite massive development and opening of new institutions – schools, colleges and hospitals?” He answered himself: “Youths got alienated and embraced the BJP lured by social media and misinformation about the then government’s actions and non-actions.”

Singh also made it clear that he will play an active role in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, but set out a condition that tickets should only be given to those who can win.

Stressing unity in the party for winning the Lok Sabha polls, the former Chief Minister recalled how he had travelled every corner of the state and ensured that benefits of development reach every area.

Patil said she was really enlightened by listening to Virbhadra on how he conceptualised the state’s development. “His experiences will guide the Congress to its victory in the Lok Sabha polls,” said Patil.
Apart from Sukhu, CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri, all sitting MLAs from Shimla, and the Congress candidates who had lost the polls in 2017 were also invited.

Agnihotri again hit out at Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, terming him “nati-king”. “It’s strange Jai Ram Thakur is not answering relevant questions on state’s development as he is talking only about nati (folk dance). The fact remains that Thakur can’t match the development, which Virbhadra Singh did during the past five years,” he concluded.

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