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Business News/ Politics / How Congress govt's future in Himachal depend on the budget session?

How Congress govt's future in Himachal depend on the budget session?

Congress suffered a setback in Himachal Pradesh as BJP's Harsh Mahajan won the tied Rajya Sabha election. Cross-voting by some MLAs raised concerns for Congress government's stability. Budget passage holds the key to power.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu along with Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi who lost the lone HImachal Pradesh Rajya Sabha seat to BJP on Tuesday (ANI)Premium
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu along with Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi who lost the lone HImachal Pradesh Rajya Sabha seat to BJP on Tuesday (ANI)

Rajya Sabha election results of the lone seat in Himachal Pradesh was a shocker as Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Harsh Mahajan defeated Congress candidate and senior Supreme Court advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Notably, the results were tied at 34 votes each, however, ‘draw of lots’ sealed the deal for BJP compounding Congress woes in the hill state as the Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu government looks at a possibility of collapse of the Congress government. 

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, a Congress leader came to power after the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections in 2022. In the 68-member state legislative assembly, Congress has 40 MLAs, which makes the Rajya Sabha loss even more embarrassing for the grand old party. 

How Congress lost the Rajya Sabha polls?

The Congress has 40 MLAs in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly and its candidate, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, was expected to win comfortably. 

However, six Congress MLAs and three Independents supporting the government reportedly cast their ballots for the BJP candidate.

BJP, which has just 25 MLAs, managed to secure 9 additional votes. The vote thus ended in a 34-34 tie. BJP candidate Mahajan ended up winning after the result was decided with a draw of lots.

Himachal Pradesh Budget to seal Congress fate in state

The BJP in Himachal Pradesh has claimed that Congress has lost majority int he state government. CM Sukhu's statement that ‘5-6’ MLAs had been kidnapped only strengthened the cross voting claims triggering fear that Congress might have lost the majority in the state.

The Leader of the Opposition Jairam Thakur, who was also the state CM till 2022, and other BJP MLAs met Himachal Governor demanding a division of votes for passing the state Budget instead of a voice vote. 

If allowed, the division of votes would establish the actual support of each party--Congress and BJP. Should the Congress government fail to get the Budget passed, it would automatically prove that it lacks a majority in the House.

On Wednesday as the Session began, 15 BJP MLAs, including LoP Jai Ram Thakur, Vipin Singh Parmar, Randheer Sharma, Lokender Kumar, Vinod Kumar, Hans Raj, Janak Raj, Balbir Verma, Trilok Jamwal, Surender Shori, Deep Raj, Puran Thakur, Inder Singh Gandhi, Dileep Thakur and Inder Singh Gandhi, were suspended by the Assembly Speaker for allegedly shouting slogans and misconduct in his Chambers.

What happens if budget is not passed?

The failure of the Lok Sabha or a state Assembly to pass the Budget is seen as an indication of the government’s loss of majority.

Unlike other Bills, the inability to pass legislation as crucial as the Budget, without which the government cannot function, is grounds for the Prime Minister or Chief Minister to resign.

With the majority mark in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly at 35, and with neither party hitting that threshold as per the Rajya Sabha vote, more political maneuverings is likely before the Budget Session ends on Thursday.

How numbers stack up in Himachal Pradesh Assembly?

If the six Congress MLAs, who cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha polls, vote against the Budget and are disqualified, the total strength of the House will come down from 68 to 62, bringing the majority mark to 31. With this new majority threshold, the Congress with its 34 MLAs should be able to pass the Budget as well as retain power.

It remains to be seen how the Wednesday's suspension of 15 BJP MLAs tips thew scale.

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Sayantani Biswas
Sayantani is an editor with Livemint. She covers stories of International and Indian politics, conflict
Catch all the Politics News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
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Published: 28 Feb 2024, 02:06 PM IST
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