Monday, March 26, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

HP rebels firm on showdown
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 25
With the rebels firm on “exposing” the Dhumal government in the Vidhan Sabha, peace brokers of the BJP-led by Mr Maheshwar Singh, MP and a former state BJP chief, are making frantic efforts to prevent the impending showdown in the House tomorrow.

Hectic parleys continued between the rebels and the negotiators to break the deadlock and end the four-week old crisis. Their day-long efforts, however, only succeeded in persuading the dissidents from announcing their action programme as they had declared three days ago. However, they refused to extend the deadline any further and made it clear that they would “blast” the government in the Vidhan Sabha if the ruling camp failed to initiate talks to redress their grievances before the House reassembled after a 10-day recess tomorrow.

Mr Maheshwar Singh who had been camping in Shimla along with Mr Suresh Chandel, MP said he had already held first round of talks with the dissidents and was also in touch with Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister. Things were moving in the right direction and the ice would be broken tomorrow to pave the way for an amicable settlement. He said Mr Dhumal had to stay back in Delhi today to attend the party rally.

According to party sources, Mr Maheshwar Singh, before coming to Shimla had detailed talks with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee during which possible ways to resolve the crisis were also discussed. He was holding negotiations with the rebels on that basis.

Mr Dhumal and the seven rebels will be face-to-face for the first time since they raised a banner revolt as and when the talks commence here tomorrow. Besides, Mr Dhumal, Mr Maheshwar Singh and Mr Chandel, senior RSS leaders Mr Chet Ram and Mr Prem Kumar will also be present.

The hopes of an amicable settlement of the crisis were raised when Mr K. Jana Krishnamurthi, was elected as national president of the BJP in place of Mr Bangaru Laxman. The rebels during their visit to Delhi last week had a prolonged meeting with him during which they apprised him of the reasons which had forced them to revolt against Mr Dhumal. Besides a change in the leadership, the rebels have been demanding the removal of Mr Narinder Modi as in charge of party affairs in Himachal. With Mr Krishnamurthi taking over as president a new team will be in place at the national level soon and during this exercise the possibility of a change of leaders looking after various states was very much on cards.

The dissidents want a one-time settlement to resolve all issues like the restoration of factional balance in the state executive, pradesh election committee and disciplinary committee and the end to interference in their constituencies by leaders of the rival group.

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