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Himachal Pradesh polls: Virbhadra replaces Sukhu as Congress campaign panel head

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday named Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh as the party’s campaign committee chairman for the November 9 assembly elections.

HimachalPradeshElection2017 Updated: Oct 18, 2017 12:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Virbhadra Singh,Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu,Congress
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh has been named Congress campaign committee chairman for the assembly elections.(Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday named Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh as the party’s campaign committee chairman for the November 9 assembly elections, replacing party’s state president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

With the move, Singh has further cut Sukhu to size in a battle of one-upmanship. The two leaders have been engaged in a bitter feud ever since Sukhu was named the Himachal Congress chief on April 1, 2013.

During his rally in Mandi on October 7, Gandhi had announced Virbhadra as the party’s chief ministerial candidate, putting to rest all speculations over who would be the party’s face in the elections.

However, the high command maintained a fine balance in the state unit by rejecting Singh’s demand to replace Sukhu.

Congress general secretary in-charge of Himachal, Sushil Kumar Shinde, had argued that a new appointee will hardly get any time to settle down. Besides Sukhu had also handed Gandhi a letter signed by district chief seeking a status quo on organisational changes at least until polls.

Sukhu continues to head the state election committee, a panel that shortlists the party candidates for different seats. The list is then forwarded to the party’s central election committee, headed by Congress president.

Sources indicated that Singh, who is the six-time chief minister, will have a major say in the ticket distribution with Sukhu and other factions sharing the spoils.

The CEC is likely to meet on Tuesday to finalise the first list of candidates.

First Published: Oct 16, 2017 23:19 IST