Cracking the whip on the rebels, the Congress party in Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday expelled seven dissidents, including deputy speaker Dharmpal Thakur, for fighting assembly elections against its official candidates.
State Congress spokesman Kuldeep Rathore said Thakur and six others have been expelled for six years for refusing to withdraw from the fray against official candidates in the December 19 polls.
Other expelled from Congress for six years are Bombar Thakur from Bilaspur, Prem Kaushal of Mewa, Jwalamukhi's Sanjay Rattan, Jagdish Sapiaya from Thural, Daram Singh Thakur from Cyhaupal, and Arvinder Kaur of Nadaunta.
Natha Singh, who is a member of All India Congress Committee and is contesting from Dharampur in Mandi district, has been suspended and a final decision in this regard could be taken by the national leadership.
When contacted, Dharampal Thakur, who entered the contest as an independent from Arki where the Congress has fielded Prakash Chand Karad, son of a retired cook from 10 Janpath, the residence of the Gandhi family in New Delhi, said he would not resign from the deputy speaker's post in wake of the Congress's decision.
"The MLAs of both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party elected me as deputy speaker of the Vidhan Sabha and I will continue in the post till the house is dissolved," he said and dared the Congress to impeach him from the post.
"The Congress has fielded a 'weak' candidate in Arki in Solan district against the wishes of the party workers and would lose the seat to him in the poll," Thakur said.
Meanwhile, the Congress asked the Election Commission to countermand the poll in the Gangath seat in Kangra district where the nomination of its official candidate Bodh Raj has been rejected.
The party has written a letter to the EC terming as 'unilateral' its action of rejecting the nomination of Bodh Raj in the wake of a Supreme Court judgment declaring the sitting Congress MLA to be not from a schedule caste, Rathore said.
Bodh Raj's candidature was cancelled after a letter from the EC on Monday. Rathore took objection to the cancellation of Bodh Raj's candidature when the returning officer had accepted his paper earlier.
"The EC cancelled Bodh Raj's nomination without consulting the Congress party," he said, adding that the further course of action would be decided after receiving the EC's reply.
The BJP also replaced its candidate Anita Dhiman with Desh Raj at the last minute. Dhiman remained in the fray as independent.