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Congress grapples with balancing factions in Shimla MC election aftermath

Shimla, May 10

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and Congress state President Pratibha Singh had a meeting in Himachal Bhavan Delhi yesterday, after which they discussed the possible choice of new Mayor and Deputy Mayor with the party high command. The party recently returned to power in the city government after an 11-year gap, winning 24 seats in the 34-member house.

According to party sources, AICC Secretary K C Venugopal is expected to rush to Himachal Pradesh today, to take the final opinion of party elected councilors before announcing the names of the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Gossips suggests that the post of Mayor would be given to the senior-most male councilor, and the post of Deputy Mayor may be rotated between a woman and a man councilor after a gap of two and a half years.

With 21 woman members in the 34-member Shimla MC, the party is in a fix.

There are also speculations about the induction of three vacant posts of Minister in the Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu Government. Following the same, Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri has been asked to come to Delhi. Also there are rumours about the grand old party speculating about the post of Dy CM and CPS, which have been challenged in the High court by the opposition BJP. There is also eagerness among party leaders over anti-party activities by some of the senior leaders against whom the party high command may take action.

Also read: Amidst a show of strength event, Pratibha Singh formally takes over as HP State Congress chief
Notably, the grand old party could not bury its differences in the factions led by Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and Pratibha Singh, resulting in senior councilors losing the Shimla MC election. The party also lost the election in five wards of Kasumpti assembly out of 12 wards in Shimla MC. The Congress won only one seat in Mandi district in the recent assembly elections from where Congress president Pratibha Singh is MP.

Sources point that the AICC is not happy with the fact that the party did not fight as a united face in Shimla MC Election and efforts are being made to create friction in the party unit.

The party high command recently adopted a strategy to give one post and berth to each party leader, and if Pratibha Singh is keen to fight MP election from Mandi, she might have to leave the party president post. Moreover, insiders inform that the party high command is not happy with the way she has projected herself as a Chief Ministerial candidate after the party’s win in the assembly election in 2022.

There is also speculation that three Congress MLAs Sudhir Sharma, Rajinder Rana and Rajesh Dharmani may be elevated as new ministers if there is any change in the state party leadership to strike the balance. Among those who could be led the party includes Thakur Kaul Singh, Ram Lal Thakur and Kuldeep Rathore.

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