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Himachal assembly election 2017: Congress stares at long drawn-out succession battle

The war of succession had begun in the run-up to the present polls too with Transport Minister GS Bali, Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur and AICC General Secretary Asha Kumari lobbying to be announced as the party’s CM candidate

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Shimla |
Updated: December 18, 2017 8:08:58 am
Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections 2017 counting Poll staff during a rehearsal ahead of counting of votes at Sanjouli College in Shimla Sunday. (Express Photo by Pradeep Kumar)

With six-time Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh and Congress leader Virbhadra Singh announcing his decision to hang his boots after the 2017 Assembly election, the focus in the party has shifted on choosing his successor who would lead the party in the coming days in the hill state. As the state prepares to welcome its next government on Monday, a war of succession is set to rage in the Himachal Congress no matter what the results are.

The war of succession had begun in the run up to the present polls too with Transport Minister GS Bali, Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur and AICC General Secretary Asha Kumari lobbying to be announced as the party’s CM candidate. But the party decided to go with the incumbent CM, though the decision failed to contain the dissent.

Read | Himachal Pradesh Assembly Election Results 2017 LIVE UPDATES

“I will retire from active politics after this term. Somebody has to take over from me. Somebody will emerge. There is never a vacuum. There is always some replacement. We have many senior leaders,” Virbhadra Singh said.. Asked to name a few leaders, who could take the baton from him, Virbhadra said, “It will be hazardous to name any one.”

While the Congress party’s worry is to hand the baton to a capable leader, who could keep the party afloat in the state, for Virbhadra Singh’s supporters it is the dearth of a leader representing the upper Himachal. Virbhadra Singh represents the upper Himachal region. The three other party leaders, including Asha Kumari, G S Bali and Kaul Singh Thakur, come from lower districts which include Chamba, Kangra and Mandi.

Another issue that troubles Virbhadra Singh’s camp is that the Chief Minister’s son, Vikramaditya Singh, is too young and contested his maiden Assembly election from Shimla (Rural) this time. The Himachal Youth Congress President, Vikramaditya Singh, cannot be an immediate heir to Virbhadra. BHe has a long way to go, said party insiders. “I hope he makes his own legacy,” Virbhadra Singh said about his son..

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