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Central Congress observers try to reach consensus on CM candidate; put off return to Delhi

Shimla, December 10

Congress observers led by Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel are unlikely to return to Delhi on Saturday as efforts are on to forge a consensus between various factions claiming chief ministership.

Sources in the Congress said state party president Pratibha Singh is vehemently opposed to four-time MLA Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu being made the CM. She has reportedly conveyed her displeasure to Bhagel and the other two central leaders, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Himachal Congress in-charge Rajeev Shukla.

All senior leaders, including Pratibha, Mukesh Agnihotri and Sukhu are holding talks with the central leaders at a hotel at Chaura Maidan here. The team is unlikely to return to Delhi till a consensus on the CM’s name is reached, said a senior leader.

Party sources said that in case Pratibha did not find favour with the party, she would bargain for the post of deputy chief minister for son Vikramaditya Singh. He has won from the Shimla (Rural) constituency for the second time. The Congress high command is averse to facing a by-poll from Mandi Lok Sabha seat in case Pratibha is made CM and later an assembly bypoll to get her elected as an MLA. This seems to be going against her.

Unconfirmed reports said that as a back-up plan, the Pratibha camp would support the claim of Mukesh Agnihotri for the post of CM. In case the caste alignments did not favour him, the name of Rajinder Rana, MLA from Sujanpur, could be pushed by Pratibha.

Rana, one-time close associate of Prem Kumar Dhumal, having joined the Congress 10 years back, could face opposition from Congress MLAs, even from those of the Pratibha camp.

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