Himachal Pradesh Transport Minister G S Bali today ruled out any possibility of him siding with former HPTDB vice-chairman Vijay Singh Mankotia who has been in a face-off with the chief minister after his removal from the post. His statement comes after his meeting with the senior Congress leader, Mankotia, recently. Bali also said that he would continue serving in the present cabinet as minister, putting to rest talks of he joining the BJP before the Himachal Pradesh polls. Expressing concern over the bickering in the Congress, he said that the party lost the Shimla Municipal Corporation polls due to lack of coordination. Bali told reporters here that the removal of Mankotia and the rift between Chief Virbhadra Singh and state Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu was "unfortunate". The chief minister had accused Sukku of not taking action against Mankotia who had demand his resigantion after being removed as vice-chairman of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board (HPTDB). On his meeting, Bali said that Mankotia is a senior Congress leader from Kangra and his relative. "Mankotia's consent was not sought before appointment or removal, whatever has happened is unfortunate," he said. Taking a different line on the leadership issue, Bali said that the Congress would contest the assembly elections under the leadership of party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, though Singh was the face of the party in Himachal Pradesh. On the Congress's 'Padh Yatra' in the state, he said that it is being taken out at an appropriate time and senior leaders like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi would be part of it. When asked about the cases against the chief minister and demands for his resignation on moral grounds by the opposition, Bali said that the cases against Singh are subjudice and it was his call. He recalled that Congress minister Asha Kumari had resigned on her own after charges were framed against her. Bali also condemned the alleged rape and murder of a school girl here and also the brutal killing of a forest guard in Mandi. He said that the police is investigating the cases and the culprits would be brought to book.
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