Newly elected Congress MLAs met here on Friday and unanimously passed a resolution authorising the party president to pick the legislature party leader, who will be the next Himachal Pradesh chief minister.
Ahead of the Congress Legislature Party meeting, chief minister hopefuls Pratibha Singh, Mukesh Agnihotri and Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu reached the party office in state capital Shimla along with their supporters, who raised slogans in their favour.
The Congress wrested power from the BJP in the hill state winning 40 of the 68 assembly seats. The polling was held on November 12 and the results were declared Thursday.
Addressing the media after the over two-hour meeting, AICC in-charge for Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla said the one-line resolution was passed unanimously and the party’s observers would submit their report to its high command on Saturday.
Refuting that there is factionalism within the Congress party as several leaders were lobbying for the chief minister’s post, Shukla said no name came forward for the post of the legislature party leader and the MLAs unanimously decided that the party leadership would take the call.
He said the Congress was happy at the opportunity to form the government in the state and asserted it would do everything to fulfil the 10 guarantees it gave to the people and provide better governance.
Stating that the entire Congress party respects former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, Shukla parried the questions on the possibility of the state getting its first woman chief minister or the top post being represented by a leader from lower Himachal.
Shukla was flanked by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and former chief minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda on one side and Pratibha Singh and Sukhu on the other.
Earlier, as the party’s central observers Baghel and Hooda worked to find a consensus candidate, a group of supporters of Pratibha Singh, the state party chief and wife of former CM Virbhadra Singh, blocked their vehicle and raised slogans in her support.
It happened as the central observers, along with Shukla, were going to meet Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar. The central leaders submitted a list of the party’s winning MLAs to the governor and “sought time” to formally stake claim to form the government.
In Delhi, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the observers sent to the hill state were seeking the individual views of all party legislators and they would convey to him their opinions, based on which the party will take a decision on the chief ministerial candidate.
The Congress Legislature Party meeting was scheduled to begin at 3 pm but was delayed as several MLAs could not reach Shimla from far-away places earlier.
Speaking to mediapersons ahead of the CLP meeting, Congress leader Sukhu said, “I am not a chief minister aspirant. I am just a Congress worker and whatever decision the high command would take would be accepted.” Earlier in the day, Pratibha Singh, 66, had indicated that she is in the running for the chief minister’s post, a point also made by her son.
“I am not in the race for the top post but my mother is one of the contenders for the post of chief minister,” her son and Congress MLA from Shimla Rural Vikramaditya Singh told PTI.
With inputs from News18