Virbhadra Singh will be the next chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, a senior Congress leader announced here Saturday. This will be his sixth term in the post. The Congress leadership Saturday evening cleared his name to head the government in the state, party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said here.
He said Virbhadra Singh's name was cleared by party president Sonia Gandhi after a resolution was sent to her by the newly-elected legislators authorising her to announce the next chief minister of the state. "After the resolution was adopted, then views of all the legislators were taken and these were conveyed further to Sonia Gandhi. She later gave her consent on the name of Virbhadra Singh," Dwivedi told reporters.
Party sources said the resolution was moved by Virbhadra Singh, and seconded by Vidya Stokes, who won the polls the eighth time, and Kaul Singh, a seven-time legislator.
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting was attended by 34 out of 36 newly-elected party legislators. Two legislators - former minister GS Bali and Ram Kumar Chaudhary - were not present. While Bali, who was admitted to the AIIMS Hospital in New Delhi, couldn't reach Shimla, Chaudhary, who was booked in a murder case by Haryana Police, has been evading arrest.
"The CLP (Congress Legislative Party) leader will now further discuss (on the formation of the government) with the high command in Delhi," Dwivedi added.
Besides Dwivedi, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, AICC secretary Anees Ahmed and party's state in charge Birender Chaudhary attended the meeting as central observers. "He is a mass leader and played a crucial role in bringing the party back to power," Stokes told reporters after Virbhadra Singh's name was cleared.
Sources in the Congress said the septuagenarian leader has bargained hard with the party leadership to get at the helm. Even seven-time legislator Kaul Singh, and confidante of commerce minister Anand Sharma, lobbied hard for the chief ministerial post.
"Kaul Singh will be given crucial berth in the cabinet," said a legislator, who didn't wish to be identified. The Congress drubbed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the state assembly polls, winning 36 out of 68 seats Thursday.