Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu new Himachal CM, Mukesh Agnihotri his deputy
Congress leader and four-time MLA Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu will be the new chief minister of Himachal Pradesh. Leader of Opposition in the outgoing assembly Mukesh Agnihotri will be the deputy CM. The announcement came during the second Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Shimla on Saturday. Intense lobbying had began for the top job after the first CLP meeting in the Himalayan state capital.
Why does this story matter?
Most MLAs assured compliance with high command's choice
Observers deployed by the Congress leadership interacted with the winning MLAs on Friday. Most of them assured that they do not endorse any particular person and will back the high command's choice. The observers included Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and state AICC chief Rajeev Shukla. Later, they submitted their report to the party president Mallikarjun Kharge.
Several prominent contenders were in fray
State Congress president and Lok Sabha MP from Mandi Pratibha Singh, former state party president Sukhu, and Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Assembly Mukesh Agnihotri were the three leading contenders for the CM job. All of them boasted MLAs' support, but in the end Sukhu won the race for the top job with the blessings of the high command.
Controversy triggered by state Congress president Pratibha Singh
On Friday, Singh, the wife of former CM Virbhadra Singh, triggered a controversy when she publicly asserted her claim to the top post. She also invoked the legacy of her late husband. "They cannot neglect his (Virbhadra Singh's) family because the election was in his name, on his face, and his work...The high command will not do that."
Agnihotri represents strong Brahmin community
Reportedly, the party was eager to appoint a leader from the predominate Thakur group as CM. The choice came down to Singh and Sukhu as both of them belonged to the Thakur community. On the other hand, Agnihotri is a Brahmin. TIll now, only once Brahmin served as CM of the state. Agnihotri is also from Una, an outlying area that borders Punjab.