Virbhadra indicates CM aspirations

Five-time chief minister and veteran Congress leader Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday exuded confidence that his party will return to power in Himachal Pradesh and gave more than subtle signals that he would like to become the next chief minister.

With the exit polls projecting a majority for Congress in the hill state, Singh, who is also the state party chief, remarked, "I have done my duty which was assigned to me, that was to fight the election and bring the party back to power. That I hope I will be able to perform successfully.

"As to who will lead the state...at present I am leading state as PCC President. And who will be the Chief Minister, that will be decided by Soniaji."

He was replying to queries on who will lead the state if the Congress party gets majority.

Singh also discounted any possibility of the party high command imposing an outsider as the chief minister in the hill state. "I can only say I don't expect this will happen," he said.

Singh was also dismissive of suggestions that Union Minister Anand Sharma, his known detractor in state politics, stands a chance to become the chief minister.

"Whether he (Sharma) is a contender or not, I don't know, but he will not be there," Singh said.

Himachal Pradesh election saw a keen tussle between ruling BJP and Congress. Singh has been seen as a prominent challenger to Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Sonia will decide: Birender Singh

In a related development, AICC General Secretary Birender Singh said thatCongress President Sonia Gandhi will decide who will be the Chief Minister if the party gains majority in the hill state.

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