Who Will Be The Next Chief Minister Of Himachal? Here Are The Top Three Contenders

The three Congress leaders in race for Himachal Pradesh's Chief Minister's post are Himachal campaign chief Sukhwinder Sukhu, Himachal Congress unit chief Pratibha Singh, and Himachal Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri.

Mukesh Agnihotri

Congress leader and Himachal Pradesh Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri has won from his Haroli seat in Himachal Pradesh assembly elections. 

Agnihotri defeated Ram Kumar of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a margin of 9,148 votes, according to Election Commission figures cited by PTI.

The Congress has staged an impressive comeback in Himachal Pradesh where the party has won or is leading on 39 of the total 68 seats. The Himachal assembly elections was fought on a 'raj versus rivaj' plank as the state has a rivaj —custom— of changing raj —party in power— every five years and the BJP sought to change his rivaj whereas the Congress sought to repeat it. 

While the BJP's Himachal campaign was marred by rebellions, the Congress too witnessed confusion over uncertainty over the chief ministerial post.

As a result, three Himachal Congress leaders have emerged as chief minister contenders — Himachal Pradesh Congress Campaign Committee chairman Sukhwinder Sukhu, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Pratibha Singh, and Leader of Opposition of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Mukesh Agnihotri.

Here we briefly profile the three leaders:

Sukhwinder Sukhu

Sukhwinder Sukhu is the Himachal Pradesh Congress campaign chief. 

Sukhu earlier served as the Himachal Congress unit chief during 1998-2008.  

Sukhu was so influential in the party at the time that he made even Himachal Congress stalward Virbhadra Singh uneasy.

Sukhurose from the ground to hold the top party post in Himachal Pradesh Congress. He served as a ward councillor in Shimla and worked with Congress student wing National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Youth Congress. 

"Three-time MLA from Nadaun in Hamirpur, also the home district of former BJP Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal, Sukhu is seen as one of the top chief ministerial faces in Himachal Pradesh," noted Outlook's Ashwani Sharma in an earlier article.

Mukesh Agnihotri

Mukesh Agnihotri is the Leader of Opposition in the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha.

Agnihotri began his professional life as a journalist and switched to politics. This is his fifth consecutive election victory.

Agnihotri was groomed and mentored by Himachal Congress stalward Virbhadra Singh, who served as the chief minister six times.

Agnihotri has emerged as a contender for the chief ministerial post in Himachal Pradesh.

"Mukesh Agnihotri has also entered the chief ministerial race in Himachal Pradesh, the state known for alternating power every five years...His rallies are marked by slogans mentioning him as next chief minister," noted Outlook's Ashwani Sharma in an earlier article.

Pratibha Singh

Pratibha Singh is currently the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief.

Pratibha is the wife for former Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh. She is currently serving as an MP. Therefore, she would need to be elected as an MLA if she is to be made Himachal Pradesh CM.

Pratibha and Virbhadra's son and sitting Congress MLA Vikramaditya Singh said he would like to see his mother as chief minister.

"As son, I would like to see my mother as the chief minister, but the decision in this regard will be taken by the winning candidates and the high command," said Vikramaditya, as per PTI.