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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Who will be the next CM of Himachal?

With the D-day nearing for the counting of votes in Himachal speculation is rising about who will be the next CM of Himachal.

While the BJP had the current CM Jai Ram Thakur  at the helm of campaigning in the State, looks likely that he will retain his chief  ministerial chair in the event of BJP coming to power though much will depend on how many seats the BJP wins from his home district  Mandi which has 10 seats. 

However, with two time CM P K Dhumal out of the fray and the national leadership inclined towards Jai Ram it would  be safe to assume that he would be back in the saddle if the BJP rewrites history. 

But it’s the Congress and its likely CM which makes for an interesting debate. Congress in the absence  of 6 time former CM, the late Virbhadra Singh has a plethora of CM contenders, a scenario which was unthinkable in the times of Virbhadra who was the doyen of the Congress in the state. 

However, since his demise the doors have opened for Congress men and women to press forward their claim for the coveted post.

There are 4 main contenders for the CM’s post from the Congress.

  • Pratibha Singh the state congress president and current  MP from Mandi parliamentary constituency and most importantly the wife of late Virbhadra Singh, whose name was repeatedly  invoked by Pratibha in her election campaign.
  • Mukesh Agnihotri, a former minister who was the leader of opposition in the outgoing assembly and carried the weight of the party in the assembly sessions. 
  • Sukhwinder singh sukhu the chairman of the campaign committee & MLA from Nadaun in Hamirpur district. 
  • 6 time MLA Asha Kumari from Dalhousie  Chamba. Asha Kumari has been  a minister in the last Congress  government  apart from being a secretary of the AICC.

Their are others who could be nursing ambitions to be CM like 8 time MLA Thakur kaul Singh from Drang in Mandi district and Sudhir Sharma from Dharamshala in Kangra but it will eventually boil down to the person who has the support of the maximum  MLA ‘s so that he or she is in a position to put pressure on the high command.

Pratibha Singh wife of former CM Virbhadra Singh and current MP from Mandi could be the frontrunner in this race as she is likely to garner the support  of maximum MLA ‘s particularly  from Shimla, Mandi and Kangra districts which accounts for almost 50% of the seats. 

Her recent win in the Mandi parliamentary constituency which comprises of 17 assembly  segments spreading across 5 districts helped her in becoming the president  of the Congress apart from raising her stature in the eyes of the high command. Her role in keeping  the Congress  flock together would be critical  for the party in the event of a hung assembly. 

However, if the party high command  were to stick with the formula of one man one post then she could  loose out to Sukhwinder singh sukhu who has the backing of the Congress  high command or Mukesh Agnihotri from Haroli, Una if the latter can muster the support  of a majority  of the MLA’S. 

Thus while the BJP’S  chief ministerial  candidate  is almost settled it’s the Congress camp which will see a battle unfolding within for the CM’s chair and the high command  particularly  Priyanka Gandhi has her task cut out if the Congress were to make a comeback in the hill state.

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine

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