Wednesday, March 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Virbhadra to be CM
Stokes proposes name for CLP leaderís post
Tribune News Service

Mr Virbhadra Singh met the Governor this evening and staked his claim to form the government. He was accompanied by senior party leaders.

Shimla, March 4
Mr Virbhadra Singh was unanimously elected leader of the Congress Legislature Party here today. The election was a smooth affair, with Ms Vidya Stokes, the other strong contender for the post of Chief Minister, proposing his name. Mr Rangila Ram Rao, Ms Chandresh Kumari and Mr Gangu Ram Musafir seconded it.

The crucial party meeting that lasted for just 30 minutes was preceded by day long hectic political activity. The three Central party observers, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, Mr Moti Lal Vora and Mr R.K. Dhawan, held meetings with senior leaders and legislators individually and collectively to evolve a consensus on the leadership issue.

While Mr Virbhadra Singh, Ms Stokes, Mr Sat Mahajan and the other leaders were closeted with the observers in Hotel Holiday Home, supporters of the two groups, who had gathered outside, kept raising slogans in favour of their leaders. At one time, the groups almost came to a clash, but prompt intervention by the police prevented an ugly situation.

The situation outside notwithstanding, the meeting in the Vidhan Sabha chamber was held in a peaceful and cordial atmosphere. Besides all 40 newly elected legislators and three Central observers, Mr Anand Sharma, the spokesperson of the All-India Congress Committee, was also present there.

According to insiders, the Virbhadra camp was able to win over nine legislators of the rival camp, reducing its strength to six. Just before the meeting, Mr Virbhadra Singh gave the observers a letter of support signed by 34 legislators.

Beside, Ms Stokes, the six legislators who did not sign the letter were Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr G.S. Bali, Major Vijay Mankotia and Mr Rakesh Kalia. Those who shifted loyalties at the last moment included Mr Rangila Ram Rao, Mr R.K. Gaur, Mr Lajja Ram, Mr Rohit Thakur, Mr Harsh Mahajan and Mr Sohan Lal.

The election of Mr Virbhadra Singh as expected leader was on cards ever since the results were declared, as 25 out of 40 legislators had been camping at his Holly Lodge house for the past two days. The strength kept increasing and his election at todayís meeting was only a formality, thereafter.

Soon after his election, Mr Virbhadra Singh thanked Ms Sonia Gandhi for showing faith in him. He said he would leave for New Delhi later today to meet Ms Gandhi and invite her to the oath-taking ceremony. He also said he would decide the date and time for the ceremony only after his return from New Delhi.

Mr Virbhadra Singh after his election said administration suffered the most during the BJP-HVC coalition government's term and much was required to be done to tone it up and make it an effective instrument of governance.

His next priority would, of course, be to rid the state of the menace of corruption which had become an integral part of governance during the Dhumal regime. He said all cases of corruption raised by the Congress would be investigated and taken to the logical conclusion.

Referring to the evergrowing problem of unemployment he said creation of jobs would also be a major concern of the new government.

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 |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |