Vikramaditya Singh meets rebel MLAs, sparks unease within Himachal Congress | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Vikramaditya Singh meets rebel MLAs, sparks unease within Himachal Congress

Mar 01, 2024 11:27 AM IST

The meeting came even as chief minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu on Thursday appeared to have staved off a crisis his government faced

Himachal Pradesh minister Vikramaditya Singh has met six rebel Congress lawmakers in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Haryana’s Panchkula ahead of a visit to Delhi even as chief minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu on Thursday appeared to have staved off a crisis his government faced.

Congress leader Vikramaditya Singh. (ANI)
Congress leader Vikramaditya Singh. (ANI)

The meeting created a ripple of unease within Congress as it worked overtime to save its only government in north India. Singh was expected to travel to Delhi to meet Union minister Nitin Gadkari as per his official schedule.

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“Vikramaditya met us in Panchkula and that is all that I can say,” said a rebel lawmaker over the phone even as the minister was unavailable for comments.

Also Read: Himachal Pradesh crisis: Former minister, ex-chairman of ST panel among rebels

It was not immediately clear what transpired at the meeting, which came even as the Congress announced a coordination committee to iron out differences between the party and the government at a joint press conference Karnataka deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar, Sukhu, and his rival, state unit chief Pratibha Singh, addressed jointly on Thursday.

Also read: Himachal Congress chief Pratibha Singh lauds BJP, says ‘we are on weak footing’

Shivakumar, Congress’s chief troubleshooter who was rushed to Himachal Pradesh as an observer to defuse the crisis, on Thursday said he spoke with all the lawmakers, Sukhu, and the state unit chief and that all the differences were sorted out. He met 32 lawmakers along with former Haryana chief minister Bhupender Singh Hooda.

The state assembly speaker disqualified the remaining six rebel Congress lawmakers, whose cross-voting cost the party a Rajya Sabha seat and cast a shadow over the Sukhu government’s future.

The Congress was unable to cross the simple majority mark of 35 in the 68-member House with the BJP insisting the Sukhu government was reduced to a minority and calling for his resignation.

Vikramaditya Singh did not turn up for Sukhu’s breakfast meeting on Thursday. He put in his papers a day earlier accusing Sukhu of disrespecting the legacy of his father, the late six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Vikramaditya Singh appeared to backtrack on the resignation late on Thursday as he and Pratibha Singh met the central observers.

The disqualification of six rebels has given the Congress a cushion in the state assembly, and breathing space to save the government. The speaker took action against the six under the anti-defection law, saying they defied the Congress whip during the vote on the finance bill.

The rebels have challenged the order in the high court. The effective strength of the assembly is now down to 62 and the majority mark 32, below the Congress’s effective strength of 34. Courts can overturn the disqualification.

Former chief minister Jai Ram Thakur reiterated the Congress had lost the majority and asked Sukhu to resign even as the rebel lawmakers and three independents were expected to meet governor Shiv Pratap Shukla

Sukhu has been under fire after the rebellion of six lawmakers appeared to reduce the party to a minority in the 68-member House. He accepted responsibility for the debacle and attacked the BJP for trying to destabilise his government.

The crisis began on Tuesday when the Congress’s Abhishek Singhvi lost the Rajya Sabha polls in the state. Singhvi and BJP nominee Harsh Mahajan received 34 votes each. The tie was then resolved by a draw of lots, which favoured Mahajan. Six Congress lawmakers and three independents, who previously backed the government, supported him.

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    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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