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Animal husbandry minister Anil Sharma, son of veteran Congress politician and former communication minister Sukh Ram, has delivered the first big blow by resigning to join the BJP.Only a week ago, Sharma was playing host to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who addressed a rally at Mandi and named Virbhadra Singh as party’s Chief Ministerial face.Traders in districts like Mandi, Kullu, Nahan , Una, Kanga and Bilaspur, besides Shimla, are openly resentful of GST.But whether this is enough to offset Virbhadra Singh’s record of the last five years remains to be seen.

He has been frequently touring the state, wooing BJP cadres and getting new projects for Himachal Pradesh.

If the Prime Minister is facing rough weather even in Gujarat, his home state, Virbhadra is saying, the Modi factor cannot be all that it is cracked up to be.

The sitting chief minister is also banking on the fallout of GST and demonetisation.

The wheel of that old rivalry has turned once again.

Sharma’s exit will add to the long odds on Virbhadra leading the Congress to a second successive victory (the state has a history of alternating between parties) and becoming a seven-time CM.