After defeat in Himachal polls, Congress leaders begin lobbying for legislature party post
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After defeat in Himachal polls, Congress leaders begin lobbying for legislature party post

india Updated: Dec 22, 2017 07:27 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Himachal Pradesh,COngress,Assembly elections

Outgoing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh meets Governor Acharya Devvrat to submits his resignation, at Raj Bhawan in Shimla on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is scrambling to choose its chief minister for Himachal Pradesh after the ignominious defeat of its CM face Prem Kumar Dhumal, the Congress is witnessing a race for the post of leader of opposition.

Rival camps headed by outgoing CM Virbhadra Singh and state Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu have begun lobbying for the post of Congress legislature party (CLP) leader, even as the party plans to undertake an introspection exercise to ascertain the reasons for its rout.

The Congress had once again banked upon its old war horse — six-time CM Virbhadra. But marred by factionalism, the party was able to win only 21 seats while its vote share of 42.8% in 2012 elections fell to 41.7% this time.

In 2012, the Congress had won 36 of the 68 seats in the assembly. Party leaders, particularly the veterans, who lost this time are covertly blaming Virbhadra for their defeat.

Kaul Singh Thakur says the internal bickering and Virbhadra’s backing to his one-time protégé Puran Thakur were responsible for his defeat.

Virbhadra’s son Vikramaditya Singh made his political debut, but has yet not opened his cards on the issue, while sources close to Virbhadra said that he preferably wants the slot for his loyalist and former industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri.

Meanwhile, All India Congress Committee national secretary and in-charge for Punjab affairs Asha Kumari , who has won from Dalhousie, is also a frontrunner for the post.

Sukhu, considered close to AICC chief Rahul Gandhi, is also keenly lobbying for the post. In case Sukhu prefers to continue to head the party unit, he could throw his weight behind other senior leaders. They could be Harshwardhan Chauhan, who won the Shillai seat for the sixth time, or Ram Lal Thakur, who won the Sri Naina Devi ji seat, defeating BJP’s young leader Randhir Sharma.

Rahul has directed AICC in-charge for party affairs in Himachal Sushilkumar Shinde and co-in-charge Ranjeet Ranjan to gather feedback from the party leaders to ascertain reasons for the defeat.

“Our leaders will analyse threadbare the reasons for the party’s debacle. Party candidates from all the 68 assembly segments will participate in the meeting to be held on December 22,” state unit general secretary and media in-charge Naresh Chauhan told Hindustan Times.

“They would also meet party legislators to gather their feedback on their choice of CLP leader,” he said.

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 23:40 IST