Shimla, Aug 1: Former union minister Virbhadra Singh Wednesday said there was no question of him quitting the Congress, but expressed unhappiness over party affairs in Himachal Pradesh, ahead of assembly elections.
He warned the Congress to read the writing on the wall if it wants to come back to power in the state, which otherwise will be suicidal. Singh said he will bring shortcomings within the state Congress before party chief Sonia Gandhi so that timely course correction can be adopted.
Being aggrieved over the state of affairs of the party in the state ahead of assembly polls due in December, he said he would prefer to quit the politics.
“There is no question of quitting the Congress at the moment for which I have devoted more than 50 years of my life,” Singh, five-time former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, told reporters here.
“I am still a loyal worker. In case things don’t change, I would take excuse from the public and prefer to retire from politics and with a bag of beans I would go back to my farm,” he said, while answering media queries on quitting the party and floating or joining some other party.
Reposing faith in the leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the septuagenarian leader said: “I respect the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. We will bring shortcomings within the party to her knowledge ahead of the (assembly) elections so that these can be overcome timely.”
Singh, who held a daylong meeting with his party’s 13 legislators, excluding state chief Kaul Singh, categorically said: “The writing on the wall is clear. If the party doesn’t want to read it and has a suicidal wish (of not coming to power), what can I do.”
Sources in the party said Singh had got an assurance from the party high command after he expressed annoyance over the way the campaign was being run in the state.
“Raja Saab (as Virbhadra Singh is popularly known) has been given a clear signal by the party high command that he would contest the ensuing assembly polls. Even he would be included in the screening committee as a special invitee,” a legislator and close confidant of Singh told IANS.
The screening panel, which will have a major say in deciding tickets for candidates, is chaired by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Its members include Minister of State for Home Jitendra Singh, party general secretary Birender Singh, state Congress chief Kaul Singh and legislative party leader Vidya Stokes.
Party sources said Singh, who reportedly got an assurance that the campaign panel headed by him would be pruned, would meet the party’s top leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, later this week in Delhi to settle the issues and grievances raised by him during his meetings with general secretary Digvijay Singh and Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel in Delhi July 27.
Singh had resigned from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet June 26 in the wake of a Shimla court order in a 23-year-old corruption case.
Elections to the 68-member Himachal assembly are due in December, but they are likely to be held in October.