Days after announcing that incumbent CM Virbhadra Singh would be the Congress’s chief ministerial face in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh, the AICC has appointed his bête noire, PCC president Sukhwinder Sukhu, as the chairman of the party’s state election committee and head of the campaign committee. The development, which puts Sukhu in a dominant position in the party and gives him a crucial say in selection of candidates and in running the campaign, may not go down well with Virbhadra, who has often attacked the state Congress chief in public.
The 15-member state election committee, which Sukhu will head, includes as other members Virbhadra Singh, Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, Rajya Sabha member Viplove Thakur and six sitting ministers in the state, including G S Bali. Sukhu will also be the chairman of a 24-member state campaign committee. Placed under him are Viplove Thakur, Virbhadra Singh as convenor, Anand Sharma as a member, Vidya Stokes, Kaul Singh Thakur, G S Bali, Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Mukesh Agnihotri, Dhani Ram Shandil Sudhir Sharma, all ministers.
CM’s wife Pratibha Singh, who is a former MP, is also a member of the committee, beside MLAs Asha Kumar (CWC member and Punjab in-charge) and former MP Chander Kumar. Himachal’s Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur has been made chairman of the manifesto committee. AICC general secretary Sushil Kumar Shinde will head 13 member coordination committee with Sukhu as its convenor.
When contacted over phone, Sukhu, who was in Delhi, said, “The high command has taken a pro-active view on the formation of the committee and given a fair representation to all the Congress leaders, regions and sections. Lot of efforts have gone into the exercise which is important for the polls.”