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Race to take Virbhadra party post

Shimla, Jan. 2: Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh has quit as state Congress chief in line with the one-man-one-post principle.

“Virbhadra Singh has submitted his resignation to Sonia Gandhi. It hasn’t been accepted yet but will automatically take effect once a new state party president is selected. The decision may take some time as the posts of other state chiefs are also vacant in many states,” said AICC Himachal minder Chaudhary Birender Singh.

The resignation has set off lobbying by senior leaders who couldn’t win the recent elections and those not accommodated in the Virbhadra cabinet that was sworn in late last month. Virbhadra was party chief for barely six months since being appointed on August 26 last year.

A faction of the party that remains opposed to the chief minister is also eyeing the job. But Virbhadra wants it to go to one of his confidants.

Among Virbhadra’s detractors, the main contenders are an AICC secretary, Asha Kumari, and MP Viplov Thakur.

Asha, who won the November elections from Dalhousie, has not been made a minister despite her past experience. Thakur is a former president of the state unit.

Leading the race among Virbhadra’s loyalists is Harsh Mahajan. He is a vice-president of the state unit but didn’t contest the election.