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Rift in Himachal Congress over Madan Lal

Press Trust Of India
Mar 27, 2009 at 11:19pm IST

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Shimla: Knives are out in Congress in Himachal Pradesh over the nomination of former cricketer Madan Lal as party candidate for Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat with rival factions blaming each other over the choice in place local leader Narinder Thakur.

Even as Lal, hit the campaign trail on Thursday, protest over his selection by a section of the party leaders refuses to die.

After Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President Kaul Singh Thakur shot off a letter to the High Command against the candidature of Lal in place of Narinder Thakur, veteran party leader and five times chief minister Virbhadra Singh is understood to have sought a rethink over the choice of candidate for Hamirpur seat.

NEW INNINGS: Ex-cricketer and Congress candidate from Hamirpur Madan Lal comes out of the Naina Devi temple.

Citing "widespread resentment" among party workers, Singh is believed to have said he would talk to the High Command over the candidate in Hamirpur.

The pro-Narinder Thakur leaders are blaming a section of leaders within Congress and went to the extent of alleging that the section was in "liasion" with Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and "misled" the high command on Hamirpur.

Expressing annoyance over some party leaders washing dirty linen in public over the issue, leader of the Opposition Vidya Stokes, considered a bitter rival of Singh, said "everybody should respect the high command's decision of choosing Lal".

The high command, after hearing views of all the leaders, decided in favour of Lal, which should be respected by everybody", she said.

"Those resenting the decision should talk to the central leadership instead of talking to the media, which is damaging the image of the party ahead of the general election," Stokes said.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, accused by pro-Narinder Thakur leaders of having worked for denial of ticket to him, said in Shimla that he has written a letter to the PCC chief to initiate action against district party workers bad mouthing against him and other leaders over the matter.

Sukhu, MLA from Nadaun in Hamirpur district, said he had supported candidature of DCC chief Sunil Sharma.

But after the High Command decided to allot ticket to Lal, whose family belongs to Adhri village of Hamirpur, everybody should respect it and work for the official candidate, he added.

Sources in Congress in Hamirpur said that Lal, in a bid to win over prominent leaders protesting his selection, met Virbhadra Singh on Thursday night to seek his blessings.

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