Apprehending repeat of the post- poll crisis in Punjab and Uttarakhand in the coming Himachal Pradesh polls, the Congress leadership on Friday stepped up efforts to mollify sulking leader Virbhadra Singh. Singh had resigned from key posts in protest over his exclusion from the screening committee that shortlists candidates for assembly elections.
Sources said the central leadership has assured Singh, the only mass leader from the Congress in the state, that his major demands will be met.
Accordingly, the five-time chief minister will have a “major say” in the selection of candidates.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh and other top leaders met Singh to pacify him.
Having quit as the union minister on June 26 after a Shimla court ruled that charges were made out against him in a 23 year-old graft case, Singh had indicated his readiness to lead the Congress in the coming polls, indirectly staking claim on the top party post in the state.
Incumbent Kaul Singh Thakur is considered a lightweight in Himachal politics and the Singh camp has made no bones about its dissatisfaction with his leadership qualities.
Sources ruled out any change in the state leadership, but there is a possibility that a working president in Himachal Pradesh might be appointed on the pattern of Haryana in 2004 polls.
Randeep Surjewala was then named as the working president of the Haryana unit. The names of Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, Sudhir Sharma, Harshwardhan Chauhan and Harsh Mahajan – all Singh loyalists — are being considered for the post.