In a major boost for the Congress, the party is leading in 36 out of the 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh election results being declared by the Election Commission of India today. With the party expected to cross the majority mark of 35, the focus now shifts to the probable chief ministerial faces. While the claimants are many, we look at some of the probables.
Pratibha Singh: Wife of former state chief minister Virbhadra Singh, Pratibha Singh is the front runner to become the chief minister if the party is able to form the government in the state. Virbhadra had been the state chief minister six times and 21 years. Even though she did not contest the poll this year, she may become the next CM as Congress used her husband’s name during the poll campaigns. However, she will have to contest the by-poll in six months to retain the family legacy in the state.
Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu: Another major face of the party to get the top most, Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu contested from Nadaun constituency this year. He is said to be a close confidante of Rahul Gandhi and has also served as Youth Congress in state president from 1998 to 2008.
Thakur Kaul Singh: A senior Congress leader in the state, the 77-year-old is an eight-time MLA from Darrang constituency. Even though he lost the election last time, Singh contested this election from the Darrang constituency again. He may be rewarded for his loyalty to the party and Virbhadra Singh.
Asha Kumari: A sister of Chhattisgarh minister TS Singh Deo, Asha is a six-time MLA from Dalhousie. Previously, she had also been in charge of the Punjab Congress. She contested from the same seat this time too.
Mukesh Agnihotri: He is the Leader of the Opposition in the current Assembly. A four-time MLA, he contested from Haroli seat this year. While he was a minister during Virbhadra Singh’s tenure, Mukesh Sagnihotri may get the support of Pratibha Singh in case his name is announced.