Shimla: Upping the ante and putting more pressure on Congress high command, Virbhadra Singh, former Union minister and five time chief minister of Himachal Pradesh has mobilized his loyalists in New Delhi ahead of selection of candidates for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.
Nearly 80 Singh loyalists, including a dozen sitting MLAs, ex-MLAs, ex-MPs and office bearers of state Congress and different frontal wings met him during the day to show solidarity with him, sources close to the senior Congress leader said.
Around 12 out of 22 sitting Congress MLAs in the 68-member Himachal Assembly turned up at Singh’s Delhi residence.
Sources close to Singh said he met Congress President Sonia Gandhi twice during the day. But there was no immediate official word from the Congress party on it.
Yograj, a Congress MLA from Kangra district, claimed Virbhadra Singh enjoys mass support base at the grassroot level and so Congress cannot afford to ignore him.
“Going to elections without his active presence will be a great disadvantage for Congress and an advantage for BJP,” he said.
Legislators close to Singh claimed Ganguram Mussafir, a former assembly Speaker and a close supporter of the senior Congress leader, has been appointed working president of HP Congress but PCC chief Kaul Singh Thakur said his office has not received any communication from the party high command in this regard so far.
Meanwhile sources said that a section of his supporters were in touch with Sharad Pawar’s NCP which also is looking to gain it’s foothold in the hill state. With Singh unhappy over the way he has been sidelined in Himachal politics by the Congress high command, Virbhadra has been under pressure by his supporters to join hands with the NCP this time.
Virbhadra Singh has been sulking following appointment of Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma as Chairman of the party manifesto committee in which he has been made a member and more recently naming of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as head of screening committee to shortlist candidates for the polls due by the end of this year.