Having put up a defiant show of strength more than once, the Congress high command does not seem to be impressed and has so far refused to hand over the reins of the party to Virbhadra Singh in Himachal Pradesh.
For the past three years the party appeared to have drawn up a different role for the veteran old guard leader by inducting him into the union government and denied his wife Pratibha Singh, a successor role in state politics by not giving her a ticket in a by poll for a seat that Virbhadra Singh represented as chief minister.
Attempting to groom an alternative leadership by making Kaul Singh Thakur president of the state party and then going out of the way to have him for a second successive term, the Congress high command has certainly tried to imprint its authority on the cadres.
But despite the long stint as party chief in the state, Kaul Singh has failed to shake of the Virbhadra overhang on the party cadre, who much to the annoyance of the high command demonstrated presence of large number of MLAs, Ex-MLAs and other congressman standing by him over the last three days at Delhi.
Removing Kaul Singh as president and making Virbhadra Singh president at this stage is an option that is bound to draw blood on either side as it would, should the party maintain even a status quo.
It’s a no win situation, either way.
Premature jubilations about expectations of being name party president have died down in the Virbhadra camp and hobnobbing with National Congress Party has not produced results yet.
Window for taking the big leap to forcefully challenge the BJP government is narrowing down. The power game may just be slipping away.
Having burnt its fingers in naming a chief minister candidate in Punjab elections, reluctance of congress to name a chief minister candidate in Himachal is understandable and para dropping a chief minister in Uttarakhand is something Virbhadra suspects would be enacted again.
First movers’ advantage of naming election candidates is passing over to BJP as Congress keeps wrangling.
Much of the wait and watch approach adopted by Congress high command is deliberate.
With age against the septuagenarian leader, Congress by not obliging Virbhadra may just be hedging the risks of naming a leader before winning elections that went horribly wrong in Punjab.