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Business News/ Politics / News/  Crisis looms over Himachal Pradesh Congress government after Vikramaditya Singh's resignation
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Crisis looms over Himachal Pradesh Congress government after Vikramaditya Singh's resignation

Back-to-back upheavals have once again brought to the fore the rift between two factions in Himachal Pradesh Congress - one led by Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and the other led by Pratibha Singh, the Lok Sabha MP and Vikramaditya's mother

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu addresses the house during the Budget Session of the state Legislative Assembly, in Shimla. (ANI)Premium
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu addresses the house during the Budget Session of the state Legislative Assembly, in Shimla. (ANI)

The resignation of Vikramaditya Singh from the council of ministers in Himachal Pradesh has deepened the crisis for Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu-led Congress government in the hill state.

The development comes a day after at least six Congress MLAs cross-voted in Rajya Sabha elections, leading to the shocking defeat of Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi to Bharatiya Janata Party's Harsh Mahajan.

The two back-to-back events have once again brought to the fore the rift between the two factions in Himachal Pradesh Congress - one led by Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and the other led by Pratibha Singh, the Lok Sabha member of parliament and Vikramaditya's mother.

Also Read | Rajya Sabha Polls: BJP wins big in UP, Himachal; Congress bags Karnataka

The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, led by Pratibha Singh, had suggested Sonia Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi be fielded for Rajya Sabha from Himachal Pradesh. Sources said the top brass in Congress were aware of the rift and hence did not field anyone from the Nehru-Gandhi family for the risk-filled battle.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi lost to BJP's Harsh Mahajan due to cross-voting by his party MLAs and through draw of lots.

Vikramaditya resigned as public works minister amid brewing discontent over Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu's leadership. He accused the Chief Minister of overlooking MLAs and disrespecting his father and Congress's tallest leader in the hill state, the late Virbhadra Singh.

"The (state) government failed to find even a small piece of land on Mall Road to install the statue of a person (Virbhadra Singh) who was the CM of Himachal Pradesh six times, because of whom this government was formed in 2022," said Vikramaditya, 34, who is also the titular king of the erstwhile princely state of Bushahr.

Also Read : Himachal Pradesh Minister Vikramaditya Singh resigns day after Rajya Sabha election results

Congress won the 2022 Himachal Pradesh election by bagging 40 seats in the 68-member house. Incidentally, Vikramaditya's mother, Pratibha Singh, was considered a frontrunner for the Chief Minister's post before the Congress leadership chose Sukhu.

Harsh Mahajan supported Congress MLA Vikramaditya Singh's decision to resign from his post in the Council of Ministers. "I saw his press conference. What he said in the press conference is absolutely correct. I agree with it 100%. He is the son of Virbhadra Singh and is a youth icon in Himachal. The way he narrated in the press conference - how he was humiliated, how his father was humiliated - what options he had? What he did, did on moral grounds and is absolutely correct," said Mahajan, the former Congress leader who was considered close to Vikramaditya's father, the late Virbhadra Singh.

Also Read: Meet Vikramaditya Singh, the royal who turns Congress rebel in Himachal Pradesh

Under these circumstances, the Congress government, which held a comfortable majority with 40 MLAs and the support of three independents until the Rajya Sabha polls on February 27, is faced with a crisis in the only state it governs in the north. The six rebel MLAs had been taken to Haryana on February 27. 

The opposition BJP has claimed that the ruling party had lost the mandate to continue in power. The BJP MLAs met Governor Shiv Pratap Shukla on February 28. "We are apprehensive that Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania might suspend the BJP MLAs so that the budget could be passed in the Vidhan Sabha," BJP leader and former CM, Jairam Thakur, told reporters.

Sources said that the Congress party has written to the Speaker seeking the disqualification of the six rebel MLAs. Also, the Congress has rushed former Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda and Karnataka deputy CM DK Shivakumar to handle the crisis brewing in Himachal Pradesh.

Also Read : Himachal Pradesh: DK Shivakumar enroute to Shimla to resolve Congress political crisis as MLA Vikramaditya resigns

Sources said that about 20 MLAs, including the six who voted for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls, have asked the party high command to replace Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

The upheaval within the Congress may pave the way for a possible no-confidence motion against the Sukhu government in the state assembly. The BJP has 25 MLAs in the house. The assembly session is on the hill-state. The speaker has already suspended 15 MLAs, including Jairam Thakur.

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Published: 28 Feb 2024, 02:08 PM IST
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