After the Congress party won the 2022 Assembly election in Himachal Pradesh, the race for the post of next Chief Minister in the hill State is all set to grow hot as the faction-ridden State unit has several contenders for the top post.
The Congress had half a dozen of leaders who were contenders for the Chief Minister’s post, including Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, Pratibha Singh, Mukesh Agnihotri, Kuldeep Singh Rathore, Kaul Singh Thakur, Asha Kumar, and Ram Lal Thakur. However, as Mr. Kaul Singh, Ms. Kumari, and Mr. Ram La Thakur failed to win their seats, they are out of the race.
The key battle for the Chief Minister’s post now remains between Mr. Sukhu and Ms. Pratibha Singh. Mr. Rathore, who won from Theog Assembly constituency, is also in contention as he enjoys the confidence and backing of the party’s ‘high command’.
At present, the party’s campaign committee chief Mr. Sukhu, with his fourth win from Nadaun Assembly seat as an MLA, is one of the strongest candidates for the post. He has also been the party’s former State president.
Ms. Prathibha Singh, who is currently the president of Congress’s State unit and Lok Sabha MP from Mandi, in all likelihood could give a tough fight to Mr. Sukhu even as she has not contested the ongoing Assembly election. She is the wife of six-time Chief Minister, the late Virbhadra Singh, and has claimed that people voted for Congress in the current Assembly election on the basis of the work done by him.
Mr. Agnihotri, whose name has also been doing rounds in the party circle for the Chief Minister post, has been Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader since 2017, and has become a five-time MLA with his current win from Haroli constituency.