Party workers come to blows at Himachal Congress office as new state president takes over

The clash allegedly took place between the supporters of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh and outgoing state unit president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

Published: 17th January 2019 11:36 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2019 11:36 PM   |  A+A-

Newly-appointed state Congress President Kuldeep Singh Rathore with former chief minister Virbhadra Singh and other Congress leaders during a welcome rally in Shimla Thursday Jan 17 2019. | PTI

By PTI

SHIMLA: Supporters from two Congress factions exchanged blows and flung chairs at each other in a brawl at the Himachal Pradesh Congress headquarters shortly after a new state unit president assumed charge, party members said.

The clash allegedly took place between the supporters of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh and outgoing state unit president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

Eyewitnesses said at least two Congress workers were hurt in the fight, which brought into the open the factionalism in the party's state unit.

Five Congress workers were booked on the complaint of one of the injured, police said.

The FIR listed section of the Indian Penal Code relating to rioting, criminal intimidation and causing injury.

No arrests were made till late evening.

"What happened at Congress Bhawan should not have happened. Appropriate action will be taken against those involved after identifying them," Kuldeep Rathore, the new Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president told reporters later.

The brief fight took place in the presence of Virbhadra Singh, Rathore, Sukhu, AICC office bearer Rajni Patil and some party MLAs.

Shortly before the fracas at the party office, Kuldeep Rathore took charge of his new assignment at a public meeting held two kilometres away.

Party members said the brawl was triggered by slogan-shouting by supporters from the rival factions.

At the public meeting earlier, Patil and Rathore had warned that indiscipline would not be tolerated in the party.

Both Virbhadra Singh and Sukhu have made veiled attacks against each other at meetings and through press statements after the party announced the appointment of a new state-level head.

Rajni Patil, who is the Himachal Pradesh in-charge at the All India Congress Committee, warned against this at the public meeting.

"No party leader or worker should think that the party would not take action against them if they continue to go to the media, breaching party discipline," she had said, without naming anyone.

Sukhu did not attend the public meeting, saying he was going for a medical check-up at that time.

But Rathore praised the absent leader and said Sukhu had told him that he will be there at the party office in the evening.

He said Sukhu had supported his appointment.

He also thanked Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his elevation and claimed the Congress would win all four parliamentary seats in the state.

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