On the eve of the poll results in Himachal Pradesh, Congress veteran Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday exuded confidence that his party will return to power and gave more than subtle signals that he would like to become the next Chief Minister.

With the exit polls projecting a majority for Congress in the hill state, Mr Singh, who is the state party chief, remarked, “I have done my duty which was assigned to me. That was to fight the election and bring the party back to power. That I hope I will be able to perform successfully. And who will be the Chief Minister, that will be decided by Soniaji.”

Mr Singh also saw no possibility of the Congress high command imposing an outsider as the Himachal Chief Minister. “I can only say I don’t expect this will happen,” he said.

Mr Singh was also dismissive of suggestions that Union Minister Anand Sharma, his known detractor in state politics, stands a chance to become the Chief Minister. “Whether he (Sharma) is a contender or not, I don’t know, but he will not be there,” he added.

Himachal Pradesh election saw a keen tussle between ruling BJP and Congress. Mr Singh has been seen as a prominent challenger to Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.