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Virbhadra Singh - the old warhorse back in the saddle

Baldev S Chauhan  |  New Delhi/ Shimla 

After being down and out, fought his way back in the last few months and won Himachal Pradesh for a beleaguered Congress. He is now set to take over as the chief minister for the sixth time .

After stepping down as Union minister earlier in the summer, Virbhadra, 78, had to camp for days in Delhi and convince the Congress high command to appoint him as the state Congress party chief, only a couple of months before the state assembly elections .

And it was less than a month before the polls he organised and enthused the party cadres; he started touring and canvassing across the length and breadth of Himachal Pradesh, against a much more organised opponent, arch rival BJP led by

The election campaign was bitterly fought with allegations and counter-allegations flying from both sides .

But a proof of his popularity was the number of people who turned up for his rallies, across the hill state which seemed to indicate he might swing the tide in his favour.

Unusually calm after his victory, Virbhadra did not rush to Delhi but chose to hold the (CLP) meeting in Shimla, where he was backed by most of the MLAs for the top job .

Late Saturday, the team of senior Congress leaders from Delhi, including Delhi Chief Minister and AICC General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi reported to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi

Interestingly, Sonia Gandhi telephoned back and asked Virbhadra to take over as chief minister. Sources say Virbhadra is set to take oath on Christmas morning on the Ridge, which will be cold but bustling with holiday makers .

First Published: Mon, December 24 2012. 00:35 IST