Sunday, May 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Stokes faction suffers setback
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 19
The Vidya Stokes faction of the Congress has suffered a setback with two senior leaders of the Himachal Vikas Party (HVP) denying they had joined the Congress.

Mr Kewal Ram Chauhan and Mr Bhagat Ram Chauhan, senior leaders of the HVP, have denied joining the Congress. Mr O.P. Rattan, president of the HVP and a close confidant of Mrs Stokes, had recently announced the merger of the HVP with the Congress and had claimed that both these leaders had also joined the Congress along with him.

Mr Kewal Ram told TNS so far he had not even filled the membership form of the Congress and might do so only after consulting prominent people of the Chopal area to which he belongs.

On the other hand, Mr Bhagat Ram, who was expelled from the BJP and had later joined the HVC, is likely to return to the HVC.

The CLP leader, Mr Virbhadra Singh, during his recent visit to Delhi is learnt to have lodged a strong protest with the AICC chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and the party general secretary, Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, against the move of Mrs Stokes to reinduct all such persons in the party who had vainly tried to damage his image when he was Chief Minister. He was more critical about the move to reinduct Mr Kewal Ram in the Congress.

Mr Virbhadra Singh is learnt to have told the party high command that Thakur Ram Lal had to quit as Chief Minister in the 1980s as his government had got defamed due to the “forest mafia” which had allegedly started operating openly in the state. Some of those now being brought back in the Congress were named in cases of illicit felling of trees.

Mr Rattan had left no stone unturned to embarrass Mr Virbhadra Singh when he was Chief Minister and the former was a Congress MLA from Una district. Mr Rattan was finally expelled from the Congress on the charge of anti-party activities and thereafter he joined the HVC of Mr Sukh Ram.

The Stokes group was also upset over the inclusion of Mr Virbhadra Singh in the high-level, Congress committee for Punjab which had been constituted to boost the party image in the state which would go to the polls early next year. The committee headed by Mr Manmohan Singh has among others Mr Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan Chief Minister, as its member. The development has come a shot in the arm for Virbhadra Singh loyalists.

There were indications that the Congress high command might take steps to remove the sharp differences between Mr Virbhadra Singh and Mrs Stokes. Various AICC leaders, who visited here in the recent past, are understood to have made it clear to the leadership that Mr Virbhadra Singh was the mass leader of the party in Himachal Pradesh and keeping him annoyed would harm the interests of the organisation.


Dhumal reshuffles portfolios
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 19
To placate rebels in the ruling BJP, Himachal Chief Minister, Mr P. K. Dhumal, today reshuffled portfolios of his ministers and allocated more departments to Mr K.K. Kapoor, Mr Rajan Sushant and five of his own loyalist.

Mr Kapoor, who holds the portfolio of transport, has been given additional charge of Printing and Stationery which was so far, held by the Chief Minister himself.

Mr Vidya Sagar, Agriculture Minister, who apparently was annoyed eversince the Transport Department was taken away from him following a patch-up between the rebels and Mr Dhumal, has been given additional portfolio of Elections which was currently with Mr Narendra Bragta.

Mr Bragta, Minister of State for Horticulture, has been given additional charge of the portfolio of Law which was with the Chief Minister.

Mr Rikhi Ram Kaundal, Minister of State for Cooperation, has been attached for the Information and Public Relations Department with the Chief Minister.

Mr Rajan Sushant, Minister of State for Revenue, who led the rebels against Mr Dhumal, has been given additional portfolio of Bio-Technology which at present was with the Chief Minister.

Mr Dhumal has also given important portfolios to the two Parliamentary Secretaries who some time ago were loyalists of the Union Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, but now have joined his camp.

Mr Chet Ram Negi, Parliamentary Secretary, will remain attached with the Chief Minister for the Tribal Development Department and with the Health Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.

Mrs Sarveen Chaudhary, Parliamentary Secretary, will attached with the Industries Minister for Labour and Employment Department and with the Minister of State Excise and Taxation for Youth Services and Sports.

This is the third reshuffle of portfolios of ministers done by Mr Dhumal in the past three years when he came to power.

The recent one was done during the period when the four rebels were sacked from the ministry and Mr Ram Lal Markanday, who belongs to the HVC, was also given the portfolio of PWD in an apparent bid to retain the support of Mr Sukh Ram. 

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |