Updated March 4th, 2024 at 09:33 IST

Vikramaditya Vs Sukhu: The Decades Old Feud in Himachal Politics Which Goes Back to Virbhadra Singh

Sources suggest that Vikramaditya has left for Delhi from Panchkula, however, if he will meet the Congress high command is yet not known

Reported by: Apoorva Shukla
Former CM Virbhadra Singh's son Vikramaditya is now in the fray | Image: PTI/File
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Himachal Political Crisis: The crisis for the Himachal Pradesh Congress government helmed by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu seems to be non-ending. While the Congress has been trying hard to put forth the ‘All is Well’ image, especially after the back-to-back meetings held by observers- DK Shivakumar, Bhoopendra Hooda and Bhupesh Baghel, the rebellions of former PWD minister Vikramaditya Singh suggest that the Himachal Pradesh political crisis is not over yet. 

The Congress suspended the 6 MLAs who voted in the favour of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha elections after they didn't abide by the whip issued by the party on the budget day. Following this, Vikramaditya Singh met the rebel MLAs at Panchkula on Thursday night. The 6 Congress MLAs have been staying at Panchkula. 

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Vikramaditya's Rebellion Has Been in Making 

Sources suggest that Vikramaditya has left for Delhi from Panchkula, however, if he will meet the Congress high command is yet not known. Vikramaditya Singh has been keeping his cards close to himself. Vikramaditya had once surprised the Congress by resigning from the cabinet of chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu. 

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Vikramaditya resigned from the cabinet alleging that the Congress government under Sukhu didn't respect the legacy of his father and 6-time Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Upon being asked, CM Sukhu said that Vikramaditya is like a younger brother to him. 

Vikramaditya Singh's Ayodhya visit was also the warning sign that the Congress probably missed. Vikramaditya Singh had visited the Ram Janmbhoomi in Ayodhya on the day of pran-pratishtha defying the party line. The Congress leadership called the pran-pratishtha ceremony a BJP-RSS event, while Vikramaditya Singh had then said that it was his responsibility towards his father, Virbhadra Singh. 

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Rajya Sabha Election Acted As Trigger? 

But the feud between Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and Vikramaditya Singh goes back to his father's generation and the high command just added fuel to the fire by picking Sukhu as the chief minister of Himachal, while Virbhadra's wife Pratibha Singh was appointed the state unit chief. 

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Political observers suggest that supporters of the royal family were expecting Pratibha Singh to be the Congress nominee in the Rajya Sabha elections. And things went out of hand when Sukhu could not stand up to the Congress' central leadership and advise them not to nominate an outsider Abhishek Manu Singhvi for the Rajya Sabha elections. 

Virbhadra Vs Sukhvinder Sukhu 

For the residents of Himachal Pradesh, the feud between the Raja Sahib’s family ( Virbhadra Family) and Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu is an open secret as it has come to the fore multiple times. Virbhadra Singh had blamed Sukhu for Congress’ defeat in the 2017 assembly election, in return, Sukhu accused Virbhadra of pursuing opposition’s policy. 

Further, back then Sukhu was close to Virbhadra’s arch-rival Pandit Sukh Ram. The different legacy- with Virbhadra hailing from the royal family and Sukhu being son of a bus driver, is also believed to be a reason for the differences between the two. 

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As Congress won the 2022 elections, Pratibha Singh is said to have claimed the CM chair asserting that the Congress secured victory due to Virbhadra Singh’s popularity. However, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was picked up by the Congress high command as the chief minister of the hilly state. 

Future in Dilemma 

As the Congress suspended 6 MLAs who rebelled against Sukhu demanding a change in leadership, Pratibha Singh speaking exclusively with Republic opposed the decision saying that disqualification was a very harsh step and could have been avoided. 

Pratibha Singh said that the MLAs are very upset with the party’s decision, claiming that it would be tough for the Congress party to contest the upcoming elections. 

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, till now, has been successful in making the Congress leadership believe that he is the best bet. But will he be able to fulfill his term after his hiccup is uncertain.

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Published March 1st, 2024 at 16:47 IST