In a sign of growing trouble for the Congress after its victory in Himachal Pradesh, party workers blocked the convoy of one of their own leaders today in a show of support for Pratibha Singh, who is a frontrunner for Chief Minister.
Pratibha Singh’s supporters gathered outside Oberoi Cecil in Shimla and stopped the convoy of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, one of the central leaders sent to Himachal Pradesh to decide on a Chief Minister.
In a video, the workers were seen surrounding Mr Baghel’s car and raising slogans in favour of Pratibha Singh, a Congress MP who led the party’s Himachal Pradesh campaign but didn’t contest the polls.
Hours before the Congress’s big meeting to decide on its Chief Minister for Himachal Pradesh, a state it won yesterday, one of the frontrunners staked her claim to the job with a sharp reminder to the Gandhis.
Ahead of a meeting of top central leaders and MLAs this afternoon, Pratibha Singh, the chief of the Congress in Himachal Pradesh, said: “There is no groupism and everybody is with us.”
Ms Singh has been transmitting clear messages that she wants to be Chief Minister.
This morning, she sought to remind her party that the elections were fought and won in the name of her husband Virbhadra Singh, who died last year.
“I think I can lead the state as the Chief Minister since Sonia ji and the High Command gave me the responsibility to lead the party ahead of the elections,” the MP told NDTV.
“It won’t be right to sideline Virbhadra Singh’s family when the election was fought and won in the name of Virbhadra Singh. We won 40 seats only because people have a strong emotional connect with Virbhadra Singh,” she asserted.
Virbhadra Singh, a former Chief Minister, was the Congress’s tallest leader in Himachal Pradesh until he died last year.
“There will be many claimants to the post of Chief Minister and the high command’s decision is the final one, but Virbhadra’s legacy cannot be neglected,” Ms Singh said.
“We have to keep our flock together and the CM will be decided soon, things will be much clearer in today’s meeting,” she added.
There are at least three more candidates for the top job – former state chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, Mukesh Agnihotri, the leader of the Congress legislature party in the outgoing assembly, and Harshwardhan Chauhan.
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