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Maheshwar no to Speaker’s post; portfolio tussle continues in Delhi

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SummaryHimachal Lokhit Party Leader Maheshwar Singh on Thursday refused to take up the Speaker’s post as offered by the Congress, but assured his party’s support to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

Himachal Lokhit Party Leader Maheshwar Singh on Thursday refused to take up the Speaker’s post as offered by the Congress, but assured his party’s support to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

“There is no question of my accepting the Speaker’s post. I have already stated that I will not accept any position, which amounts to comprising the identity of my party. Since I will be the only HLP legislator in the House, it is my duty to keep its existence alive,” the former BJP MP told the Indian Express over phone from Kullu.

The Congress has 36 MLAs - one more than the majority mark. But the chief minister intends to have his numbers well in place when participating in the House debates.

“I have told Chief Minister about my party’s constructive support to the new government. But there are so many other options, which the Chief Minister can exercise to keep HLP on his side,” Maheshwar added.

He sounded positive about the chances of his estranged brother Karan Singh – who was elected from Banjar on the Congress ticket – joining Virbhadra cabinet. “He has supported Virbhadra at crucial times and remained a minister in the BJP government,” he said.

The tussle over the portfolio allocation for the new ministers continued as Vidya Stokes also reached Delhi where Virbhadra detractors such as PCC president Kaul Singh Thakur and Asha Kumari are already camping.

However, Thakur claimed that his Delhi visit had nothing to do with portfolio allocation.”I met AICC chief Sonia Gandhi to congratulate her on the formation of the Congress government in HP. She has reposed faith in me by making me the PCC chief,” he said.

Mandi MLA and son of former Communication Minister Sukh Ram, Anil Sharma, is also in Delhi. It was only recently that Sukh Ram, once a bitter political rival of Virbhadra, had come out in support of his chief ministerial claim hoping that his son may get a cabinet berth.

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