Congress faces task to stay future perfect in Himachal Pradesh


Photo credit Twitter Pratibha Singh

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, December 9: The Congress legislature party meeting was finally held after repeated postponement in Shimla, while Pratibha Singh, the spouse of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh and the state unit party chief, sought to build pressure on the leadership to name her as the next Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. Finally, the Congress legislature party meeting, true to the tradition of the Indian politics, authorised the party’s chief Mallikarjun Kharge to take a decision on the next Chief Minister of the hilly state.

The Congress observer Rajiv Shukla said in Shimla that no name was either discussed or proposed in the legislature party meeting. Kharge has said that the party will take a consensus decision on the issue.

Picking the leader of the legislature party, who will become the next Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, is turning out to be tricky issue for Congress leadership. Mukesh Agnihotri, the leader of the Opposition in the last Assembly, and the four term MLA Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu have also been canvassing for their stakes in becoming the Chief Minister of the hilly state.

Virbhadra Singh has for a long time been Congress’ top icon in Himachal Pradesh. Supporter of Pratibha Singh have gone vocval to argue that Congress sought votes in the name of later Virbhadra Singh, who prominently featured in the party flags during the election campaign. If Pratibha Singh wins the bid to become the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, she would break a glass ceiling, as the state politics is patently patriarchal. Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress had fielded less than eight per cent women candidates in the Assembly elections.

Sukhu is known to be a rival of Pratibha Singh, which clearly shows hat the Congress unit in the state is faction-ridden. This also poses a challenge for the Congress leadership to not allow feuding Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh riddle find a reflection in Himachal Pradesh also. In Rajasthan, Congress high command could not reconcile the aspiration of Sachin Pilot. The party had similar experience in Chhattisgarh where Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and T Singh Deo have been feuding all through the party’s tenure in the state. Similar had been the Congress story in Punjab where the rivalry between former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and the state unit chief Navjot Singh ended up destroying the party’s hod in the state.

Even while Kharge would be taking a call on picking up the legislator party leader of Congress in Himachal Pradesh, it is well known that the actual decision will be taken by the former party chief Rahul Gandhi. It is to be seen if Gandhi sticks to the past pattern of backing the senior most, which in Himachal Pradesh would be Pratibha Singh, and asking the other claimants to be patient with their aspirations.

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