Survival at stake, Sukhvinder Sukhu leads Congress battle in six Himachal assembly bypolls - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Survival at stake, Sukhvinder Sukhu leads Congress battle in six Himachal assembly bypolls

By, Dharamshala
May 28, 2024 05:10 AM IST

Winning the bypolls is crucial for Congress in the state as the party’s strength in the 68-member assembly fell to 34, while the BJP has 25 MLAs

The Congress faces a dual challenge as Himachal Pradesh goes to the polls on June 1. Besides the four parliamentary seats, chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu is pulling out all stops to campaign for the Congress candidates in the six assembly byelections to be held the same day as their outcome is critical for his political survival and the stability of his government.

Himachal CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu addressing a public gathering on the campaign trail in Dharamshala. (Source: X)
Himachal CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu addressing a public gathering on the campaign trail in Dharamshala. (Source: X)

The bypolls were necessitated by the rebellion of six Congress legislators, who had voted for BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan in the February 27 Rajya Sabha elections. After their disqualification for defying the party whip to vote for Congress nominee Abhishek Manu Singhvi, they joined the BJP in Delhi and were fielded as candidates for the byelections. While the BJP blamed the Congress for mismanagement, Sukhu accused the saffron party of horse-trading.

Winning the six bypolls is crucial for the ruling Congress in the state as the party’s strength in the 68-member assembly fell to 34, while the BJP has 25 MLAs. Since the BJP has fielded all six rebels, it has made it tougher for the Congress to reclaim the seats. A party needs 35 members in the House for a majority. In 2022, the Congress had won 40 seats in the state and formed the government.

Four of the six byelections are being held in Hamirpur parliamentary constituency. The Congress campaign, being spearheaded by Sukhu, who represents Nadaun in the assembly, accuses the BJP of orchestrating the rebellion to destabilise the state government by using money power.

Four of the six rebels, Rajinder Rana of Sujanpur, Chaitanya Sharma of Gagret, Inderdutt Lakhanpal of Barsar and Davinder Kumar Bhutto of Kutlehar, belong to assembly segments in the Hamirpur Lok Sabha constituency.

Harish Kumar Thakur, a professor of political science at Himachal Pradesh University, said, “The survival of the Congress government depends on the outcome of these byelections. If the BJP wins all seats, there are full chances it will take over the reins in the state.”

Three Independent MLAs, who also voted in favour of the BJP candidate during the Rajya Sabha elections, have put in their papers but Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania is yet to approve their resignation. The legislators moved the high court, seeking directions for the Speaker to accept their resignation. But the matter is still in court.

Nagrota Bagwan Congress MLA RS Bali terms the byelections a fight between the BJP and the people of the state. “They are making impossible claims and misleading people. With the Congress having 34 MLAs and the BJP needing 10 more to reach the majority mark of 35, they are playing with people’s minds. The people of have never witnessed such tactics in the state. The mandate was given to the Congress for five years, but the BJP, by taking six Congress rebels, is trying to destabilise the government. The people will respond on June 1,” he said.

Sullah BJP MLA Vipin Singh Parmar said that the Congress is in crisis due to its failed promises. “There is anger among people in Himachal Pradesh against the Congress government because they failed to deliver on their guarantees. The six legislators left them because of the government’s mismanagement. They took a stand openly. Even the Independents said they felt suffocated in such a government. The Congress could not honour the mandate given to them,” he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, July 21, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On