Himachal Won, But An Uphill Task Awaits Congress: Whom To Pick As Chief Minister?

New Delhi: As the Congress is set to form the government in Himachal Pradesh, the party finds itself facing a problem of plenty, with several chief ministerial contenders in the fray.

State Congress chief Pratibha Singh is being considered the key frontrunner for the top post, followed by former party chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and outgoing CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri.

Although Pratibha Singh did not contest the state polls and is not an MLA, she campaigned extensively across the hill state. Currently, Singh is the Mandi MP after winning the byelection from outgoing chief minister Jairam Thakur’s home district.

According to party sources, Singh has the support of a majority of MLAs, who owed their allegiance to Virbhadra Singh.

Pratibha Singh’s son Vikramaditya has been elected as an MLA from Shimla rural and is also among the hopefuls, though many consider him too young for the CM post.

The other contenders are Sukhu, MLA from Nadaun, and Agnihotri, who was elected from Haroli. Both are hopeful that the Congress high command would recognise their work as former PCC chief and Congress Legislature Party leader.

As per Agnihotri, he put forth the Congress position strongly in the state assembly as CLP leader in the state assembly and highlighted BJP’s “misgovernance” during the last five years. Agnihotri is a Brahmin leader while Sukhu hails from the dominant Thakur community.

Former PCC chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, who won from Theog, is also a CM hopeful. Rathore was replaced with Pratibha Singh as the head of the Himachal unit.

Meanwhile, the Congress has convened a meeting of all its newly-elected MLAs in Shimla on Friday. The meeting is likely to pass a resolution authorising the Congress president to elect the CLP leader.

AICC in-charge of Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla said the party was happy that it is getting an opportunity to form the government in the state and added that the party will do everything to fulfil the 10 guarantees made to the people of the state.

“The newly-elected Congress MLAs would meet in Shimla on Friday post-election results and decide on electing the new legislature party leader,” Shukla said.