Congress mulling naming Virbhadra Himachal unit chief

Himachal COngress Frames Charges Against BJP ANurag Thakur DhumalNew Delhi: Congress’ central leadership is contemplating appointing former chief minister Virbhadra Singh as new president of party’s unit Himachal Pradesh to boost party’s preparations for the forthcoming assembly polls, party sources said.

The sources said that there was movement towards appointing him as Pradesh Congress chief Thursday but no announcement was made by the party.

“An announcement was expected this evening but it has not been made so far. Till formal announcement is made, there remains uncertainty (about his appointment),” a senior party leader said.

The leader added that an announcement could be made Friday along with appointments to some other state units.

Virbhadra Singh, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi twice Tuesday, has been sulking for the past few weeks over the composition of some election related panels for the state.

He has also been pressing for a strong say in distribution of tickets.

Himachal Pradesh is scheduled to go to polls by December this year.

Sources said there had been contact between Virbhadra Singh and Nationalist Congress Party leaders and the move was used by his supporters to send signals to Congress leadership.

They said Congress leadership is keen on enthusiastic participation of Virbhadra Singh in the campaign due to his popularity as a five time state chief minister and his mass support. There is apprehension in the party circles that a sulking Singh could damage Congress’ prospects.

The septuagenarian leader is also seen in party circles as the leader with maximum potential to attract crowds in the state.

After he conveyed his unhappiness over composition of some election-related panels, the party leadership has been talking to him to remove his grievances.

Virbhadra Singh’s supporters had first raised the demand of appointing a working president but later demanded that he should be made party chief, replacing Kaul Singh, a former state minister, who has backing of union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

Virbhadra Singh had resigned as micro, small and medium enterprises minister June 26 in the wake of a Shimla court order in a 23-year-old corruption case.

Party sources said that factionalism in the state unit is unlikely to end with Virbhadra Singh’s appointment.

They said if appointed, he will become a member of the screening committee which has a strong say in ticket distribution.


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