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Himachal Cong unit chief Pratibha Singh among names pitched for CM

Shimla: With the Congress heading towards absolute majority in Himachal Pradesh, as it surged ahead of the ruling BJP, winning or leading in 39 of 68 assembly seats, Pratibha Singh, Congress leader and wife of six-time Chief Minister (CM) late Virbhadra Singh, has been projected as the prospective CM.

Coming out openly after retaining his Shimla (Rural) seat for the second consecutive term, Vikramaditya Singh said, “We will form a government with a full majority. She (Pratibha Singh) is one of the contenders for the CM post.”

Singh is the son of Pratibha Singh, who has not contested the assembly poll. She is currently a Member of Parliament from Mandi.

The other prospective candidates in the race for the chief ministerial post are Mukesh Agnihotri, 60, and Sukhvinder Sukhu, 58, who are leading from Haroli and Nadaun seats respectively.

“The Congress is going to form a government with full majority,” Sukhu told the media as the counting of votes in his constituency was on.

In the latest results and trends available, the Congress won 26 seats and was leading in 13, while the ruling BJP registered a win on 14 seats and was leading in 12 others.

Political observers told IANS that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was facing anti-incumbency and the main Opposition Congress has somehow managed an edge over its traditional rival.

The Congress, however, largely banked on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The Congress appointed its three-time MP Pratibha Singh as the state unit president in April.

Unlike her husband who had a direct connection even at the grassroots, Pratibha Singh had spearheaded the poll campaign to oust the incumbent Jai Ram Thakur-led government.

The Congress had promised to restore the old pension scheme, which will directly benefit nearly 2.5 lakh government employees, to fill one lakh jobs in the first Cabinet meeting, besides 300 units of free electricity, if the party returns to the helm.

Eyeing to woo the government employees who have been demanding the restoration of the old pension scheme, the Congress in its manifesto said all arrears of the employees would be cleared and contract employees regularised within two years.