Ending a weeklong suspense in Himachal Pradesh,the Congress on Sunday appointed former chief minister Virbhadra Singh as its new state president,replacing Kaul Singh Thakur in the run-up to the Assembly elections slated for later this year.
Thakur,who resigned from the post on Sunday morning on the advice of AICC general secretary Birender Singh,will be appointed as the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader after the Assemblys monsoon session,which begins in Shimla in Monday. He will replace veteran leader Vidya Stokes,who is set to be accommodated as a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) or any other position matching her stature and seniority in the party,sources said.
Birender Singh,who is in-charge of party affairs in Himachal,said Virbhadra has been given the partys command since the Congress felt that such a change of guard will help the party in the BJP-ruled state. The appointment has been confirmed by the AICC after the high command held close consultations with Virbhadra Singh and other state leaders. The new CLP leader will be elected after the Assembly session,as there are a few formalities, he added.
About Stokes,he said: She will get some proper place matching her status. She will also fight the Assembly elections.
On his resignation,Kaul Singh Thakur said: I only followed what the party told me to do,rest is up to the high command.
As the state goes to the polls in next three months,the changes made in the organisational setup especially to bring Virbharda at the centrestage is being considered significant. The move is also seen as an attempt to placate the 78-year-old former Union minister,who has been demonstrating his strength often to ensure that he remains as a potential chief ministerial contender in the state. In the recent past,the Congress had been torn in factions with Virbhadra almost threatening to walk out of the party if he continued to be sidelined or denied a larger role in the distribution of party tickets.
Meanwhile,Union Minister for Commerce,Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma a staunch Virbhadra rival was on Sunday appointed the chairman of the campaign committee in Himachal Pradesh,a task which Virbhadra was given after he resigned from the Union Cabinet recently.