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Hopefuls fly to Delhi for better berths

india Updated: Dec 26, 2012 23:48 IST
Gaurav Bisht

Congress stalwarts of Himachal Pradesh have begun to jockey for key portfolios in the state government and in the frenzy some are taking the earliest flight to New Delhi to open channels with the high command.

Sources told Hindustan Times that chief minister Virbhadra Singh, before he was sworn in, had called on party president Sonia Gandhi and discussed with her the constitution of the council of ministers.

No decision has been taken as to who shall get what even as Congress general secretary Birender Singh Chaudhary, who is in charge of Himachal Pradesh affairs, was in Shimla till late afternoon on Wednesday.

Chaudhary, along with senior leader GS Bali, then flew to New Delhi in a chartered plane to meet the central leaders.

Bali, who is vying to be deputy chief minister, is demanding major portfolios. He has been offered the health department but is insisting on his old departments - transport and tourism.

It has been learnt that senior party functionaries have expressed their displeasure on the portfolios proposed by the chief minister.

Till late on Tuesday night there was speculation that Vidya Stokes, the senior-most minister, could get the public works department (PWD) but she may face opposition from someone who has been offered irrigation and public health.

Stokes, who too is believed to have gone to New Delhi, is not keen on power, which she held during 2003-07. However, Singh may keep the PWD for himself because he used the bad conditions of the roads as a lever in his election strategy.

Kaul Singh Thakur, the senior-most minister after Stokes, also left for New Delhi in the afternoon.

"The purpose of my visit is only to express gratitude to Sonia Gandhi. The efforts of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi enabled the Congress to regain power in Himachal," Thakur said.