Updated February 28th, 2024 at 15:13 IST

Change of Guard in Himachal? 6 Contenders in The Race for CM | List of Frontrunners

As Sukhvinder Sukhu has agreed to resign from the post, the Congress party has a new challenge of bringing back the rebel MLAs to its fold and picking new CM

Reported by: Apoorva Shukla
Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu | Image:PTI/ File
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Himachal Congress Crisis: As the Congress government is facing unprecedented crisis following the debacle in the Rajya Sabha polls, sources say that the Congress may replace sitting chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu in order to keep the flock together. Sources claim that Sukhvinder Sukhu has agreed to resign, however, while speaking to reporters earlier today, Sukhu said that he will be holding the post.

Sources say that Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu spoke to the Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and suggested names of the chief minister who could take over from him, agreeing to resign from the CM post. As per sources, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has suggested three names- Harshwardhan Chauhan, Rohit Thakur and Jagat Singh Negi. 

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Harshwardhan Chauhan is MLA from Shilla and also holds industry portfolio in CM Sukhu's cabinet, while Rohit Thakur is the sitting education minister. 

Speculations are rife that around 14 Congress MLAs may tender their resignation the Governor by tonight, with former minister Vikramaditya Singh leading the pack. Sources suggest that Vikramaditya Sigh, Mukesh Agnihotri and Rajendra Singh Rana may stake claim on the CM chair if Sukhu steps down. 

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Congress in Damage Control Mode

The Congress top brass on Wednesday rushed former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and DK Shivakumar to Shimla to parley with members of the party which is facing loss of support and risks losing power in the state.

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They have been asked to engage with the disgruntled MLAs, including six MLAs, who are learnt to be "disappointed" with the working style of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and are seeking his replacement.

How Numbers Stack Up in Himachal Assembly 

In the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly, the Congress has 40 MLAs while the BJP has 25 legislators. The remaining three seats are held by independents.

However, as per the current status, 15 BJP MLAs have been suspended while 6 Congress MLAs, who voted for the BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections, have flown back to Haryana's Panchkula. 

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The BJP claimed that they have the support of the 6 MLAs. “They have voted for BJP's candidate during the Rajya Sabha elections. They are with us. There can be many others,” said Himachal Leader of Opposition Jairam Thakur. 

While CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has claimed that he is in touch with the MLAs. “Some of the MLAs who voted for BJP are in our contact,” said Sukhu. 

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Vikramaditya's Shocker, Says Father's Legacy Disrespected 

Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Vikramaditya Singh resigned from the cabinet of CM Sukhu claiming that he felt humiliated and its better to step from the cabinet. 

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“All I would like to say is that under the current circumstances, it is not correct for me to continue as a part of the government. So, I have decided that I am resigning from the Council of Ministers,” said Vikramaditya. He said that he is still with the Congress party, claiming that the ball is now in the high command;'s court. 

Vikramaditya claimed that the Sukhu government has not respected the former chief minister and his father 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," said Himachal Pradesh minister Vikramaditya Singh as he announced his resignation. “We are emotional people, we have nothing to do with posts. But this is very unfortunate. I am very hurt, not politically but emotional.” he said. 

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What is Happening in Himachal Pradesh? 

The political crisis in Himachal began with Congress' debacle in the Rajya Sabha elections. 

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In a stunning upset for the ruling Congress in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP on Tuesday won the state's lone Rajya Sabha seat with its candidate Harsh Mahajan defeating Congress stalwart Abhishek Manu Singhvi. 

The contest tied with both the Congress and the BJP candidates getting 34 votes, indicating that at least six Congress MLAs voted against the party. The result was then declared on the basis of a draw of lots. 6 Congress MLAs voted in favour of the BJP. 

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Published February 28th, 2024 at 12:49 IST