It's almost final that chief minister Virbhadra Singh's wife Pratibha Singh will be the Congress nominee for Mandi parliament by poll.
Virbhadra, who, along with a battery of loyalists, is camping in Delhi, is also lobbying hard to ensure return of rebels to the party fold before the June 23 bypoll.
Pratibha had won Lok Sabha elections in 2004 by defeating Kullu royal's scion Maheshwar Singh, then a BJP candidate. However, she lost elections in 1998 to Maheshwar, who defeated her with an impressive margin of more than 1 lakh votes.
Congress's state election committee had met here on Saturday to deliberate on the probable candidates. In the meeting, which was attended by state party president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, chief minister Virbhadra Singh and other senior leaders, the members authorised All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi to take the final call.
Apart from Pratibha Singh, candidature of the Rakesh Dharwal, a young leader from Sundernagar, was also discussed. State party chief forwarded both the names to AICC general secretary Birender Singh.
In Delhi, Virbhadra met senior party functionaries, including AICC president Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, AICC treasurer Moti Lal Vohra, and AICC secretary Birender Singh on Monday. Virbhadra is accompanied by forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri and industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri.
Virbhadra reportedly urged the central leaders that candidate should be announced at the earliest, especially when the BJP campaigning was already on. Besides, the CM is also lobbying hard for comeback of the Congress rebels, who had been shown the door for anti-party activities during the vidhan Sabha elections.
It is pertinent to mention that Virbhadra Singh supporter Dharamveer Dhami had contested as an independent from Manali, while former legislator Ishwar Dass after being denied ticket rebelled in Ani Vidhan Sabha seat. Prem Lata Thakur, wife of former horticulture minister Satya Parkash Thakur had contested Kullu seat as an independent.