Virbhadra Singh to be Himachal CM for sixth time

Virbhadra Singh, who successfully spearheaded the Congress campaign in the Assembly polls, will be the next Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.

78-year-old Singh, President of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), was named leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) by AICC General secretary Janardan Dwivedi after his appointment was approved by Sonia Gandhi.

Earlier, the CLP attended by 34 out of 36 Congress members, authorised Gandhi to appoint the CLP leader. Dwivedi, who was the central observer, made the announcement after a four-hour-long meeting of the CLP.

A five-time Chief Minister, Singh first took over the top post on April 8, 1983 and again became CM on March 5, 1985 after mid term polls. Congress lost the elections in 1990 under his leadership but he again brought the party back in power and took over as CM for the third time on December 3, 1993.

The Congress emerged a single largest party in the hung assembly in 1998 and Singh was again sworn in as CM on March 5, 1998 but he failed to win the trust vote and resigned.

In 2003 polls, the Congress bounced back to power and Singh was again elected as leader of the CLP and assumed office of the CM on March 6,2003. Singh was elected to Assembly in December 2007 polls but the party failed to win majority. He contested the Lok Sabha polls in 2009 from Mandi and was inducted as cabinet minister in the Manmohan Singh government.

He resigned from the Cabinet on June 26, 2012 after framing of charges against him by a local court.

Briefing the mediapersons after the meeting, Dwivedi said that Gandhi had asked him to ascertain the views of individual members on making Singh the new Chief Minister.

"We ascertained the views of the members and informed Sonia Gandhi who approved the name of Virbhadra Singh," Dwivedi said. He said that Singh would go to Delhi and discuss all related matters with party high command.

Singh got massive support from CLP members and only a few MLAs had reservations about him, party sources said. The two MLAs who were absent at the meeting were former minister G S Bali from Nagrota who could not reach Shimla as his plane could not land at Chandigarh due to thick fog and Doon MLA, Ram Kumar who is evading arrest in a murder case and did not turn up.

Singh, who is an eight-time MLA, was elected to Vidhan Sabha from Shimla (Rural) constituency. He was made HPCC president on the eve of assembly polls.

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