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Business News/ Politics / News/  Himachal Pradesh Political Crisis: Six rebel Congress MLAs disqualified. What lies ahead for the hill state?
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Himachal Pradesh Political Crisis: Six rebel Congress MLAs disqualified. What lies ahead for the hill state?

After the disqualification of six rebel MLAs, the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh has, for now, survived a two-day scare over its future following the cross-voting by six of its MLAs in favour of the BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha election on February 27

Congress leaders with Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on February 28 Premium
Congress leaders with Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on February 28

Himachal Pradesh Assembly speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania on February 29 disqualified the six rebel Congress MLAs who cross-voted during the Rajya Sabha elections. With this, the six MLAs cease to be members of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly.

Congress survives scare?

After the disqualification, the Congress government has, for now, survived in Himachal Pradesh after a two-day scare over its future due to cross-voting by six of its MLAs in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the Rajya Sabha election on February 27.

The strength of the house after the disqualification, pending judicial scrutiny, comes down to 62. The Congress now has 34 MLAs in the house, with 32 being the majority mark. Three independent MLAs who supported the Congress also cross-voted for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha election.

BJP's plans

The BJP had demanded a trust vote soon after the Congress lost the Rajya Sabha polls due to defections. Former Chief Minister, Jairam Thakur, and other leaders claimed that the Congress party had lost the majority in the house. However, the Congress government passed the budget on Wednesday, February 28, while 25 BJP MLAs were not present in the house after 15 of them were suspended. Also, the disqualification of six rebel MLAs has changed the dynamics. 

Follow Live Updates on Himachal Pradesh Political Crisis Here 

"Our experts will analyse the situation, and after looking at their judgments, we will take a decision. It is too early to say anything. Congress was totally exposed in the Rajya Sabha elections. Congress has lost its opportunity. Morally, they have no right to stay in power and the emotions of the people of Himachal Pradesh are clear from this," Rajeev Bindal, Himachal Pradesh BJP president, told news agency ANI.

The Court Route

This disqualification order is subject to judicial scrutiny and will attain finality after judicial scrutiny, Pathania said. Also, it remains to be seen if these six MLAs approach the court against the disqualification.

The six legislators had cross-voted, along with three independents, during Rajya Sabha polls. However, they have not been disqualified for cross-voting, but for violating the whip and skipping the budget session of the Himachal Pradesh assembly.

Pathania said he wanted to prevent 'the aya Ram gaya Ram' politics. This phrase is used to refer to politicians switching party allegiances frequently.

The Congress government's survival will also depend on whether the party can ensure that there are no more defections among the 34 MLAs.

CM Sukhu's Fate

As Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu's fate hangs in the balance, all eyes are on the team of Congress observers deployed in Himachal Pradesh. The observers, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister, DK Shivakumar, former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Bhupesh Baghel and former Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had a consultation with local Congress leaders and legislators at Chief Minister Sukhu's residence in Shimla today, February 29.

The team is all set to submit a report on the situation unfolding in Himachal Pradesh to Congress Party President Mallikarjun Kharge later in the day.

Sources said the Congress may allow Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu to continue as Chief Minister until the Lok Sabha 2024 elections. The party fears that changing him might lead to another phase of rebellion by the Sukhu camp legislators.

In a show of strength, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu had a breakfast meeting with his MLAs earlier on February 29. Sources said 31 MLAs attended the invitation.

All eyes on Pratibha Singh

The crisis that the Congress government faced in Himachal Pradesh brought to the fore the rift between the two factions in Himachal Pradesh Congress - one led by the Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and the other led by Pratibha Singh, the president of Himachal Pradesh Congress and widow of six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh. 

On the disqualification of MLAs, Singh said it will have an impact on the upcoming Lok Sabha 2024 elections. "When it has been more than a year, and you take no cognisance or listen to them, it is natural for them to be upset. Had you sat them down, talked to them, and found a solution, this situation would not have occurred," she told news agency ANI.

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Published: 29 Feb 2024, 03:12 PM IST
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