Shimla, Dec 10: Two days after it reached the peak in the battle of supremacy in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, choosing the chief minister has become an uphill task for the Congress party, even as state party chief Pratibha Singh is out of the Chief Minister's race.
To nip the 'lotus in the bud' appears to be the party's prime considerations while making the decision.
And its decision makers know that ignoring sitting Member of Parliament Pratibha Singh, under whose leadership the party sought votes, could be the thorn that can prick where it hurts the most, if her family stature in state politics is ignored.
Sources in the party say Pratibha Singh is out of the Chief Minister's race as most of the newly elected legislators have reposed faith in the leadership of former state party chief and four-time legislator Sukhwinder Sukhu.
Sukhu, 58, who reportedly has the support of over 25 legislators, is the favourite for the Chief Minister's post. Mukesh Agnihotri, 60, also fourth time legislator, is a frontrunner for the top post as well.
Pratibha Singh, who was assured by the party high command that her legislator son will be accommodated suitably in place of her in the incoming government, is the widow of Congress veteran and former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who remained at the helm of the state for a record six times and fought and led numerous political battles single-handedly, even when he turned octogenarian.
The veteran leader passed away early in July last year in Shimla at the age of 87, leaving behind a rich political legacy of pursuing politics on his own terms, rather than banking on his proximity to the party high command.
Earlier, Pratibha Singh, who has not contested any Assembly poll, was openly opposing the candidature of Sukhu for the chief minister's post.