Shimla, December 9
Newly elected Himachal Congress MLAs on Friday passed resolution authorising the party high command to pick next chief minister, state Congress incharge Rajeev Shukla said.
Addressing the media after the CLP meeting, Shukla said the party high command had been authorised to take the final decision.
“There is no factionalism in the party on the issue. Everyone has unanimously decided to leave the decision on the CM to the high command,” he said in reply to a query.
Shukla also said none of the MLAs had taken name of any legislator for the CM post as everyone felt that the high command should take the final call. “It has been left to the high command to take the final call,” he said when asked if the CM would be from amongst the elected MLAs.
Replying to a query whether Virbhadra Singh’s legacy will be taken into consideration while deciding the CM, Shukla said the entire Congress party respects Virbhadra Singh but it is for the high command to decide.
The meeting of Congress MLAs was chaired by Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Himachal Congress in-charge Rajeev Shukla. Of the 40 Congress MLAs, 39 were present in the meeting. Ghumarwin legislator Rajesh Dharmani was not there as he was on his way to Shimla.
Shukla introduced all the MLAs and later the central leaders had one-to-one meetings with each of the MLAs to take their feedback on the CM candidate.
Earlier, the meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) which was scheduled for 6 pm was put off for 8 pm as some MLAs were yet to arrive in the state capital. Speculation was rife that the two camps, one led by state Congress president Pratibha Singh and the other by four-time legislator Sukhiwnder Singh Sukhu, were lobbying to seek support of majority MLAs.
A team of Congress Central Observers, led by Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Himachal Congress incharge Rajeev Shukla today met the Governor at Raj Bhawan to formally stake claim for the formation of the government.
While Pratibha met Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Himachal Congress incharge Rajeev Shukla, but Sukhu remained elusive amidst speculation that he was keeping the flock of "his MLAs" intact. Five-time MLA and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Leader Mukesh Agnihotri also remained a strong contender for the CM’s post.
Tension outside the Congress office was palpable as Pratibha’s supporters raised slogans outside the Congress Bhawan, demanding that she be made the CM as she arrived for the CLP meeting in the evening. Earlier in the day, supporters of Pratibha resorted to sloganeering in her support as the central leaders drove out from a private hotel in Chaura Maidan for Raj Bhawan to stake claim for formation of government.
The party high command is likely to take into consideration factors like region, caste, seniority and support of majority MLA’s while deciding the CM candidate. This kind of situation has arisen almost after three decades as Virbhadra remained the undisputed leader, despite Sukh Ram throwing a challenge to him in 1993 to make it to the top post.
Many senior Congress legislators met the central leaders during the day. However, now it remains to be seen who is able to get the support of majority MLA’s. Sukhu, a known Virbhadra critic, has staked claim to the CM’s post. He has maintained that it is the elected MLAs who will decide their CM in consultation with the high command.
Pratibha today again reiterated that Virbhadra’s family cannot be ignored. “The opinion of the newly elected MLAs will be sought and then the high command will take the final call,” she stated.
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