New Delhi: After the victory in Himachal Pradesh, the Congress has called a meeting of its MLAs today to elect its next challenge chief minister. With the Congress having at least four candidates to choose from, it won’t be easy. The meeting will take place at radisson hotel in Shimla. At the forefront of the race is Congress’ Himachal Pradesh chief Pratibha Singh, wife of Virbhadra Singh, who was the tallest Congress leader in the hill state till her death last year.
Pratibha Singh is a Lok Sabha MP from Mandi and belongs to a former royal family. She did not contest elections, but effectively led the Congress campaign. She claims the support of Congress MLAs, who were loyal to her husband Virbhadra Singh, who led the party in Himachal Pradesh for over three decades.
His son Vikramaditya Singh, who contested and won from Shimla Rural, said media yesterday, “As a son, I want Pratibha ji to get a bigger responsibility. Apart from being a son, I am also a responsible leader of the party. That is why whatever the party decides, we will respect it. I am sure the party will take care of what people want.”
“We have to follow the path shown by Virbhadra ji. The government will work on the ‘Virbhadra Singh Development Model’. He must be smiling in heaven today.”
Besides her, three other contenders are former state chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, Congress legislature party leader in the outgoing assembly Mukesh Agnihotri and Harshvardhan Chauhan. The party also fears the BJP’s “Operation Lotus”.
Mukesh Agnihotri believes that he deserves the top post to put forward the party’s position firmly in the state assembly.
There are other names in the fray for top post. Former state Congress chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore claims he brought together a deeply divided party in the last few years. Rathore was replaced as the chief by Pratibha Singh a few months ago.
Several Congress leaders are said to have contested the elections in the hope that they would be elected as chief ministers. They also used it during election campaigns in their constituencies.