With a fortnight left for the announcement of the results of Himachal Pradesh elections held earlier this month, Congress heavyweights in the state are going for the fences for securing the chief ministerial post.
Congress sources said internal surveys indicate that the party is likely to get a majority in Himachal polls leading to increasing the number of contenders for the chief minister's post.
A senior leader told ANI that they are confident that Congress is winning 42 to 46 seats in Himachal and some independent MLAs who are expected to go through in the battle are also in touch.
The situation is that the senior leaders of Himachal have already started making their presence in Delhi.
Former state president and head of the campaign committee Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu is visiting senior leaders in Delhi, while Pratibha Singh, the party MP from Mandi and wife of former CM Virbhadra Singh, and her son Vikramaditya are also proposing to visit the national capital.
After becoming the Himachal Pradesh CM in 1983, Virbhadra Singh dominated the state Congress till his demise. Whenever the party formed the government, he became the CM.
This is the first election since 1983 that the party fought without Virbhadra Singh.
However, it was Virbhadra Singh's dominance that his wife Pratibha Singh jumped into the fray, becoming president of the state unit before the elections.
Party fielded his MLA son Vikramaditya for the second time as well.
But his negligible administrative experience comes in the way of the CM's chair going to the Royal family, said sources.
Another big leader from Thakur community, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the former Himachal Congress president is also in the race.
Sukhvinder, who had been the state NSUI and Youth Congress chief, never had good terms with Virbhadra Singh.
Further, six-time MLA from Dalhousie Asha Kumari comes from a Royal family of the Thakur caste.
Asha Kumari is the sister of T S Singh Deo, who is a minister in the Chhattisgarh government.
Notably, it is said that the party high command had promised to make Singh Deo Chhattisgarh CM for two and a half years, which was not fulfilled and Bhupesh Baghel continued in the post.
Sources in the party said if Asha Kumari, who was a cabinet minister earlier, reaches the assembly for the seventh term, then the family might claim the chief ministerial post.
It is said that Asha Kumari was also not on good terms with Virbhadra Singh. Now, keeping the family of Late Virbhadra Singh away from the chief minister's chair and handing over the baton to his opponent Thakur leader will prove to be a problem for the high command, said sources.
In such a situation, there are two influential Brahmin leaders Mukesh Agnihotri and Sudhir Sharma close to Virbhadra Singh's family could be alternative choices for the party.
However, in Himachal politics, it is tough for the Congress high command to give preference to Brahmins in comparison to Thakurs.
After all, for years, whether it is the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party, they have been betting on Thakurs with more population for the CM's chair, be it Virbhadra Singh, Prem Kumar Dhumal or Jairam Thakur.
On Tuesday, senior Congress leader Rajiv Shukla held a meeting with all the candidates of Congress in the Himachal Assembly polls and discussed the preparations for the counting day.