Himachal Pradesh CM: Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu who headed the Congress campaign committee in Himachal Pradesh will be the next chief minister, the party announced on Saturday (December 10). Mukesh Agnihotri, the leader of the opposition in the outgoing Assembly, will be the deputy chief minister, the party said after a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP).
The Congress wrested power from the BJP in the hill state winning 40 of the 68 assembly seats. The polling was held on November 12 and the results were declared Thursday. Sukhu, a former president of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, is a four-term legislator and is considered close to party leader Rahul Gandhi, they said. He was known as a detractor of Congress veteran and six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh, according to the sources.
The new Himachal Pradesh chief minister and Deputy CM will take oath on Sunday (December 11) at around 2:00 pm, said Congress party sources.
"We will run a very good government. Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and Mallikarjun Kharge will attend the oath ceremony tomorrow," said Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
Earlier in the day, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said, "We are all carrying forward his (former Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh) legacy. The Congress party is moving forward by making harmony among all the people. We are all representing the Congress party."
Even after winning the assembly polls with a clear mandate, the Congress was finding it difficult to fill the void created by the death of six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh and reach a consensus on the legislature party leader who will become the CM.
From the morning itself, Congress MLAs made a beeline to Cecil Hotel in Shimla where the party's central observers- Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda- were staying. According to sources, all kinds of efforts were made to placate state Congress Chief Pratibha Singh, who had indicated that she is in the running for the chief minister's post, a point also made by her son.
If reports are to be believed, Sukhu had the support of around 22 MLAs and Pratibha Singh 14 MLAs. The Pratibha Singh camp has also demanded the deputy CM and at least 7 Cabinet berths out of a total of 12 cabinet seats, sources said.
On Friday, the observers, along with AICC in-charge for Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla met Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar and submitted a list of the party's winning MLAs to the Governor and "sought time" to formally stake claim to form the government. The Congress wrested power from the BJP in the hill state winning 40 of the 68 assembly seats. The polling was held on November 12 and the results were declared Thursday.