Sunday, November 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Dhumal faces revolt
3 HP ministers, 3 MLAs withdraw support

From S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Nov 25 — The 32-month-old BJP-HVC combine government of Mr P.K. Dhumal has plunged into a serious crisis with three ministers and an equal number of legislators withdrawing support to him because of his “discriminatory” attitude and “humiliation” of senior partymen.

These leaders have sent a two-paged letter to Mr Dhumal, listing serious allegations of favouritism and interference in recruitment to government jobs. They have also accused him of being “vindictive” towards certain ministers and MLAs.

They have sent a copy of the letter to the state BJP chief, Mr Jai Kishen Sharma, urging him to make alternate leadership arrangements.

The signatories to the letter are Irrigation Minister Ramesh Dhawala, Transport Minister K.K. Kapoor and Minister of State for Town and Country Planning Hari Narayan Singh. The three legislators who have signed the letter are Mr Dulo Ram, who is president of the BJP in the biggest district of Kangra, Mr Des Raj and Mrs Nirmala Devi.

All signatories belong to the Shanta Kumar faction. Mr Dhawala was an Independent. He had won as a BJP rebel.

The development can have serious repercussions as in the 68-member Assembly, the BJP has a strength of 35 with four others supporting it.

The letter is the culmination of long-drawn bickerings between the two BJP factions.

The rebel ministers and legislators in their letter have said that despite repeated pleas, the PWD Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh, had not been dropped from the Cabinet.

However, when contacted on the telephone in Delhi, Mr Dhumal said the issue would be sorted out through a dialogue.

He said the signatories to the letter were “our” party friends. He said he had met the Union Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, to discuss the matter with him and his response was “positive”.

The rebels have alleged in the letter that Mr Dhumal was trying to “destabilise” established leaders with his “discriminatory” attitude. They have accused Mr Dhumal of sowing seeds of division by humiliating senior leaders and ignoring their advice on important matters.

They have alleged that the constituencies of such leaders were being discriminated against even in the matter of development.

Recruitment to government and semi-government jobs was being done from a particular district and people had lost faith in the Public Service Commission and the Subordinate Services Selection Board.

“The recent recruitments in the Kangra Cooperative Bank and Himachal Pradesh University clearly indicate that fair and impartial selection of candidates is not possible under the existing system.”

The rebels have alleged that Mr Kripal Parmar, a resident of Pathankot, who was made the party candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat without taking anyone into confidence, was interfering in their constituencies.

Resources for development were being distributed on a discriminatory basis.

They have pointed out that the BJP executive committee comprised members from one faction which indicated that effort was being made to isolate certain leaders. “A person facing criminal cases has been included in the committee, ignoring senior and experienced leaders”.

They have said the continuation of Mr Mohinder Singh in the Cabinet was tarnishing the image of the government and the BJP. Over 3,700 daily-paid workers had been recruited by Mr Mohinder Singh from his own Assembly constituency, whereas there was a ban on recruitment elsewhere in the state. Contracts in the PWD were being awarded on the basis of chits and not tenders.

They have taken exception to the “insolent behaviour” of a retired officer employed by the Chief Minister in his office. They have said the officer might be indispensable to Mr Dhumal because of some “personal” reasons, but his behaviour with Ministers, legislators and party leaders was condemnable.

They have alleged that this officer had got posters distributed among the people in the constituency of the Irrigation Minister, Mr Ramesh Dhawala, which were damaging to the minister. A close relative of the officer was interfering in the Paragpur constituency of Mrs Nirmala Devi.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Congress Legislature Party, Mr Virbhadra Singh, has said that the Congress was watching the developments in the BJP closely and “we will take appropriate action as may be warranted by the situation”.

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