In a new twist to the Himachal Pradesh coronation story, state parliament speaker Pratibha Singh has dropped out of the race to become a Minister, sources said.
Hours before yesterday’s big Parliament meeting to decide on the Minister, Pratibha Singh delivered his statement of the job with a sharp reminder to the leadership in Delhi. She said elections had been held and won in the name of her husband Virbhadra Singh, who died last year, and it would be “a disaster” to leave out his family.
However, she did not receive popular support among the longtime party’s 40 newly elected MLAs, which is why she was dropped from the contest, sources said.
Former state premier Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who is said to have the backing of more than 25 MLAs, is now the favorite for the leadership position. Mukesh Agnihotri, leader of the outgoing Congress legislative party in parliament, is also in the race.
Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, third MLA from Nadaun in Hamirpur district, is an educated lawyer and rose through the ranks from the National Union of Students of India (NSUI) Congress wing.
A far cry from former Virbhadra Singh, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, an activist at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, led the NSUI state unit in the late 1980s. Graduated with a full-time political career. He served as president of the state Youth Convention in the 2000s.
Mukesh Agnihotri has won the fifth parliamentary election since turning from journalism to politics about two decades ago. He still hasn’t said anything. He was considered the patron of “royalty”, especially Virbhadra Singh, but gradually became ambitious of his own.
Virbhadra Singh, a former Minister, was the highest leader of Parliament in Himachal Pradesh until his death last year.
Pratibha Singh has been elected as Lok Sabha MP from his constituency, Mandi. She did not contest the state election, but her son Vikramaditya Singh did.
Pratibha Singh said: “There will be many candidates for the position of Minister and the decision of the highest command is final, but Virbhadra’s legacy cannot be ignored.
Top Congressional leaders met with newly elected Congressional MLAs in Shimla yesterday to gauge who has popular support and devise a strategy to keep people together in the hill state, where sectarianism is rampant.
The sources said that Congress Secretary-General Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is credited by party leaders for winning the Himachal Pradesh Parliament elections, will make the final call on who will be. is the Premier of the state. The announcement will be made at 4pm. This comes after a dramatic day in the hill state, with rival factions vying for the top spot.