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 today.
The 78-year-old leader, 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.
Mr Singh met Mrs 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.
Mr 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.
Mr Singh had a long meeting with Congress' 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.
Mr 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, Mr 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, YS Parmar, was administered oath at Ridge on January 25, 1971 by the then Governor S Chakravarty after Himachal Pradesh was granted full statehood.
Meanwhile, there were reports in Shimla that some Congress leaders will be sworn in as ministers at the oath taking ceremony.
Though there was no official intimation about the number and names of the ministers, names of senior party leaders like Vidya Stokes, Kaul Singh Thakur, GS Bali, Sujan Singh Pathania, Thakur Singh Bharmauri, Mukesh Agnihotri, Sudhir Sharma and Prakash Chowdhary for Cabinet posts were doing the rounds.
Virbhadra Singh had earlier said that he would have a three-tier ministry with Cabinet and state ministers and Parliamentary secretaries.
But after his return from Delhi, he started the exercise for forming the ministry. According to party sources, the list of ministers to be sworn in has been sent to the Raj Bhavan.
The maximum number of council of ministers in Himachal Pradesh is 12 including the Chief Minister.