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Congress to meet elected party MLAs today to decide Himachal Pradesh's CM

Himachal Pradesh Congress President Pratibha Singh adresses a press conference after the party's victory in State Assembly elections, in Shimla, (PTI)Premium
Himachal Pradesh Congress President Pratibha Singh adresses a press conference after the party's victory in State Assembly elections, in Shimla, (PTI)

  • Himachal Pradesh election: State party president Pratibha Singh is considered a key frontrunner for the chief minister's post, closely followed by former party chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and outgoing CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri

The Indian National Congress (INC) party, which wrested power from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh, will be convening a meeting with the newly-elected MLAs in Shimla on Friday. As per media reports, the party will also decide the name of the chief minister of the state.

State party president Pratibha Singh is considered a key frontrunner for the chief minister's post, closely followed by former party chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and outgoing CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri.

Though Pratibha Singh did not contest the Himachal Pradesh assembly election and is not an MLA, she had campaigned extensively across the state.

Singh is presently the Mandi MP after she won in the bye-election from outgoing chief minister Jairam Thakur's home district. She carries the legacy of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who steered the Congress in the state for over four decades.

Singh has the support of a majority of MLAs who have owed their allegiance to Virbhadra Singh who remained the Congress' undisputed leader in the hill state for a long.

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

On the other hand, Agnihotri claims that he put forth the party's position strongly in the state assembly as Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and highlighted BJP's "misgovernance" during the last five years. Agnihotri is a Brahmin leader, while Sukhu hails from the dominant Thakur community in the state.

Former PCC chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, who won from Theog in a multi-cornered contest, is also a CM hopeful and is claiming that he brought the faction-ridden party together in the last few years.

Rathore was replaced a few months ago with Pratibha Singh as the head of the Himachal unit.

Congress on Thursday won 40 seats in the 68-member Assembly in the hill state which maintained its tradition of not voting any incumbent government to power since 1985.

The All India Congress Committee in-charge of Himachal Pradesh Rajiv Shukla on Thursday said "The newly-elected Congress MLAs would meet in Shimla on Friday post-election results and decide on electing the new legislature party leader".

Apart from announcing the name of the next chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, the elected MLAs are likely to pass a one-line resolution authorising Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge to decide the CLP leader -the party's tradition.

The party's two observers -- Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and senior leader from Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda-- along with Shukla have arrived in Shimla for the crucial meeting. While Shukla is AICC in charge of Himachal Pradesh, Baghel was appointed senior observer for the Himachal Pradesh polls.

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