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Cong’s next big task: Choosing Himachal CM
Virbhadra is a front-runner, but others are eyeing the post too
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 20
After defeating the BJP in Himachal Assembly polls, the Congress top brass has now another big task at its hand: To choose the next Chief Minister among a bevy of contenders. Though the Congress victory has come under the leadership of PCC chief Virbhadra Singh, he is not the only one eyeing the Chief Minister’s post.

With counting of votes over, the race for the top job has intensified. The contenders for the post have become active and started the headcount to ascertain their number of supporters among the 36 newly elected members.

Virbhadra Singh, undoubtedly, remains the front-runner. Apart from Kaul Singh, the name of Union Minister Anand Sharma, who has been maintaining that he had no interest in the state politics, is also doing the rounds. CLP Leader Vidya Stokes, who was in the race for the top post in 2003, is another strong candidate.

Virbhadra’s uncanny knack of winning over the Independents gives him an edge. He has already hinted that some Independents were ready to support the Congress for a strong and stable government.

However, the victory of prominent leaders opposed to Virbhadra Singh like Kaul Singh, GS Bali and Asha Kumari and the defeat of some of his close supporters like GR Musafir, Rangila Ram Rao, Ram Lal Thakur and Kuldeep Pathania have enthused the rival camp.

Observers say the Congress high command would not like to annoy Virbhadra, a five-time Chief Minister, especially with the Lok Sabha elections round the corner. The party would certainly like to avoid a re-play of Uttrakhand and create a situation which could undermine the victory and send wrong signals to the people and the party rank and file. 





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