Shimla: The Congress returned to power in Himachal Pradesh after five years, defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday. Congress leader and former chief minister Virbhadra Singh seems to be eyeing the Chief Minister's post. "I have a big support base, not only among the people but also among the elected MLAs. Now as to what their further role is for me, is to be decided by the Congress high command and Sonia Gandhiji," he said while speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai. "There must be strong state leadership which can assist the centre leadership in elections," he added.
The Congress put up a spirited campaign under former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to emerge victorious by a comfortable margin. Being pitched as a strong CM contender, Singh led his party while winning Shimla(Rural) constituency defeating his BJP rival Ishwar Rohal by 19,033 votes.
Even though the BJP tried to corner the Congress by trying to raise the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders brought by the Central Government, which political experts had said could have harmed the Congress's vote share, Singh defied the pollsters by leading his party from the front and bring cheers in party.
Singh had resigned from the Union Cabinet after a special court framed charges against him in a graft a case but the Congress high command appointed him state party president to lead the party in the assembly polls. He was the Chief Minister between 1983 and 85; 1985 and 1990; 1993 and 1998 and 2003 and 2007.
On Wednesday, Singh had given more than subtle signals that he would like to become the next chief minister. "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."
"As to who will lead the state...at present I am leading state as PCC President. And who will be the chief minister that will be decided by Soniaji." He said this when asked who will become the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh if the Congress party gets majority.
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 when asked whether a person from outside could lead the government of Congress if the party comes to power. 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. Anand Sharma also ruled himself out of the race to be the Himachal Pradesh chief Minister.
(With additional information from PTI)