Shimla/New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, the architect of Congress' victory in Himachal Pradesh, will be sworn in as the hill state's Chief Minister for the sixth time in a function at the historic Ridge Ground in Shimla on Tuesday.

78-year-old Singh, who has been invited by Governor Urmilla Singh to form the government, would take oath alone and will finalise his council of ministers later this week after consultation with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, sources said.

Singh met Gandhi in Delhi on Monday to discuss the formation of the new government, they said. He was formally elected as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party in Shimla on Saturday.

Congress has 36 MLAs in the 68-member Assembly and one independent MLA has extended unconditional support to the party. Singh was Chief Minister between 1983 and 1985; 1985 and 1990; 1993 and 1998 and 2003 and 2007.

In his five-decade-long political innings, he has been a seven-time MLA, a five-time MP and a five-time Chief Minister. He has also been a four-time President of the Himachal chapter of Congress and also represents the Mandi seat in the present Lok Sabha.

Singh had a long meeting with AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who was deputed as observer by the party high  command for Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meet, on Saturday evening in Shimla and discussed several key issues relating to  government formation.

Singh, after the election as CLP leader, had told reporters that his ministry would be a three-tier one and "fully representative". "All sections and regions, young and old would be included in the ministry," he had said. Asked about the next speaker of the state assembly, Singh had said he had three persons in mind but would not divulge the names at this stage.

It would be for the third time in the history of Himachal Pradesh that the swearing in ceremony would take place outside Raj Bhawan.

The first chief minister of the state, Y S Parmar, was administered oath at Ridge on January 25, 1971 by the then Governor S. Chakravarty after Himachal was granted full statehood.

Outgoing Chief Minister P K    Dhumal had also taken oath at Ridge under open sky on December 30, 2007 after the BJP came to power.

Singh was elected to Lok Sabha for the first time in 1962. He was again elected MP in 1967, 1972, 1980 and 2009 and assumed the office of chief minister for first time on April 8, 1983.

He dissolved the assembly in January 1985 after the landslide victory of Congress in Lok Sabha polls in November 1984. With a landslide victory, he was sworn in ad CM again on March 5, 1985.

The Congress was routed under his leadership in 1990 polls and could win only nine seats.

However, the BJP government was dismissed in the aftermath of Babri mosque demolition and Congress rode to power again in elections held in November 1993 and Singh was sworn in as Chief Minister on December 3, 1993.

Singh dissolved the assembly in December 1997 and simultaneous polls were held for the assembly and the Lok Sabha. Congress emerged as single largest party in hung assembly.

Virbhadra Singh was sworn in Chief Minister on March 6, 1998 but did not face the trust vote. He announced his resignation on the floor of the house on March 12 and recommended Governor’s rule in the state.

After formation of NDA government at the centre, the governor was advised by the Union Home ministry to explore the possibility of formation of elected government and BJP-HVC government led by PK Dhumal was sworn in on March 24  but it lasted only 18 days.

The Congress bounced back to power in 2003 polls and Virbhadra singh took over as Chief Minister for the fifth time but Congress was again defeated in 2007 polls and Singh contested the Lok Sabha polls from Mani in 2009 and won.

He was inducted in Cabinet by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but had to resign after a local court at Shimla framed charges against him in graft case on June 25 last.

(Agencies)

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