‘You can’t neglect him…’: Wife of Cong’ late Himachal CM after party’s big win


The CongressHimachal Pradesh win Thursday has been followed swiftly by speculation about the chief minister’s post, with rival camps gearing up to challenge each other. One of those seen as a contender to replace Jai Ram Thakur is Pratibha Virbhadra Singh – the wife of the late six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh – who fired a warning shot late last night.

“… we won this poll in the name of the late Virbhadra Singh… you can’t neglect him and his family,” the party’s state unit boss told news agency ANI. She also played down talk of her being the next chief minister, saying, “I am not saying I am in the race… MLAs will choose their leader. They will make the best decision, which will be conveyed to high command.”

Full Coverage | 2022 Himachal Pradesh Assembly Election

Pratibha Singh – a Lok Sabha MP from Himachal’s Mandi, outgoing chief minister Thakur’s home district – did not contest this election, although she did campaign extensively, and will have to win an Assembly seat within six months if she is named the Congress’ new CM.

READ | Voters were troubled by the misrule of BJP: Pratibha Singh to HT

Her son, though, is an elected MLA; Vikramaditya Singh contested and won the Shimla (rural) seat once held by his father.

Singh claimed a comfortable win, securing over 34,000 votes to the nearly 21,000 polled by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ravi Kumar Mehta.

Vikramaditya Singh – now a two-time MLA from this seat – could therefore be a contender, although he is batting for the post to be given to his mother.

“As a son and a responsible leader of the party, I want the high command to give the responsibility to my mother… (but) party’s choice will be acceptable.”

Pratibha Singh is understood to have the support of a majority of the new MLAs, many of whom have remained loyal to Virbhadra Singh’s family.

The MLAs will meet in Chandigarh to discuss the selection of a chief minister.’

READ | Who will be Himachal Pradesh’s next CM? Here are the frontrunners

The Congress does have more experienced options though, with former state unit leader Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and outgoing legislature party leader Mukesh Agnihotri in the fray.

READ | Pratibha, Sukhu and Mukesh Agnihotri line up for Himachal CM post

Another ex Himachal Congress chief – Kuldeep Singh Rathore – is also a hopeful, on claims he helped re-unite the faction-ridden party over the last few years.

The Congress returns to power in the hill state after easing to victory over the BJP in an election held last month; the win is a welcome one for a party that had struggled to convince at elections over the past few years. The Congress 40 of the state’s 68 seats.

With input from ANI

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