Not Pratibha Singh, these 3 Congress leaders in race for Himachal Pradesh’s CM post

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections results were declared on 8 December and the Congress party emerged as the winner with 40 seats. The party is set to form the government in the hilly state for the next five years. However, the party is yet to decide on the chief ministerial candidate.

Sources told news agency ANI that the former state party chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, CPL leader Mukesh Agnihotri and party leader Rajinder Rana are considered to be in the Chief Minister race.

However, finalising its chief ministerial candidate for Himachal Pradesh appears to be a sticky task for Congress as Pratibha Singh, widow of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is not considered by the high command as the supporters of the Congress State chief sloganeered in her support.

On 9 December, supporters of Pratibha Singh gathered outside the Congress Shimla headquarters in huge numbers and demanded her appointment as the Chief Minister of the state. A supporter said that if she is not appointed the chief minister, it will be a «huge mistake» on the high command’s part.

«If Congress has been able to get 40 seats in the state, it is because of the leadership of Rani Pratibha Singh. The post of Chief Minister should only go to someone from the family of Virbhadra Singh. If it doesn’t happen, then it will be a huge mistake on the party of party high command,» she said.

Another supported claimed that if Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu would have been the state chief, Congress would have got only «15-16 seats».

Slogans like «Apni mukhyamantri kaisi ho…Rani Sahiba jaisi ho» (Our CM should be like Rani Sahiba) and «1…2…3…4…Holy Lodge saatvi baar» (We want a CM from the ‘Holy Lodge’ for the seventh time) echoed outside the Congress HQ in Shimla. One of the supporters said, «Congress has won the elections under her leadership, and she should get her due credit.»

As per sources, «The Chief Minister will be from among the MLAs only. The high command feels that two by-elections will have to be held if Pratibha Singh is made the Chief Minister. One of the Lok Sabha, the other of the Legislative Assembly.»

The sources further said that Pratibha Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh might be given a higher position in the cabinet to handle.

«In such a situation, when Congress lost 9 out of 10 seats in Mandi, it would not be appropriate to go for the by-elections immediately. The atmosphere that has been created after winning the election somewhere can get spoiled. Her son Vikramaditya Singh may be given a higher position in the cabinet to handle Pratibha,» the sources further said.

Sources close to the high command also rejected Pratibha Singh’s claim of support of 25 MLAs.

According to them, there are more MLAs personally with Sukhu.

Earlier on Friday, the newly-elected Congress MLAs in Himachal Pradesh passed a resolution to leave the decision of choosing the Chief Minister to the party’s high command and the final stamp on the name of the CM will be put in Delhi.

The decision was announced at a press conference by AICC in-charge of the state Rajiv Shukla.

Prior to the meeting, Congress leader Sukhwinder Sukhu Sukhu refuted the claims of him being the chief minister candidate. While talking to reporters in Shimla, the Congress leader said «I am not a CM candidate. I am a disciplined soldier and worker of the Congress party and an MLA. Party high command’s decision will be final».

The meeting of newly-elected MLAs was held a day after the declaration of results in the state in which Congress gained an absolute majority with 40 seats. BJP got 25 seats.

Shukla said media reports that there is a division inside the party are absolutely wrong.

«All 40 MLAs took part in the CLP meeting today and all have unanimously passed the proposal to leave the decision to select the CM of the state on party high command,» he said. «The media reports that there is a division inside the party are absolutely wrong,» he added.

Shukla said no name was suggested by any MLA.

«All MLAs unanimously passed a resolution to leave the decision of choosing the CM to the party’s high command. We will submit our report to the party high command tomorrow,» he said. 

(With inputs from ANI)

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