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March 1, 2024

Himachal Pradesh Political Crisis: Six Congress MLAs Disqualified for Cross-Voting, Threatening Government Stability

Amidst the political turbulence gripping Himachal Pradesh, six Congress legislators faced disqualification from the Assembly after they crossed party lines to support the BJP during the Rajya Sabha polls held on February 27. Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania announced their disqualification, citing their absence from crucial voting sessions on the State Budget and the Finance Bill, defying party directives.

The disqualified MLAs—Rajinder Rana, Sudhir Sharma, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Devinder Kumar Bhutoo, Ravi Thakur, and Chetanya Sharma—found their seats declared vacant by evening, as reported on the Assembly’s website.

In response, three-term MLA Rajinder Rana expressed intentions to challenge the disqualification in the Supreme Court, highlighting procedural irregularities in the notice served by the Speaker’s office. The motion for disqualification was initiated by State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshwardhan.

A team of All India Congress Committee (AICC) observers—Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Bhupesh Baghel, and D.K. Shivakumar—addressed the crisis in Shimla, with Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu taking responsibility for Abhishek Singhvi’s defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls. Despite the setback, the AICC observers assured the completion of the Congress government’s full term, announcing the establishment of a six-member coordination committee to reconcile internal differences.

As rumors swirled regarding leadership changes due to discontent with Sukhu’s governance style, the Chief Minister convened a breakfast meeting with party MLAs, reiterating the commitment to the Congress government’s stability. Sources revealed Sukhu’s assertion of significant support from at least 10-12 MLAs, emphasizing the detrimental impact of his removal before a vote of confidence.

The political turmoil escalated following the loss of the Congress nominee in the Rajya Sabha elections, attributed to cross-voting by six Congress MLAs in favor of the BJP candidate. In response, the Congress high command dispatched observers and party general secretary Priyanka Vadra to mitigate the crisis, emphasizing unity and discipline within the party ranks.

Despite efforts to resolve internal conflicts, concerns lingered over impending by-elections in constituencies affected by disqualifications, potentially destabilizing the Congress government further.

With the disqualification reducing the Congress’ Assembly strength and the BJP posing a formidable opposition, the Congress faces a critical test of resilience in safeguarding its government against mounting challenges.

As the political landscape evolves, the fate of the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh hangs in the balance, contingent upon navigating internal divisions and external pressures effectively.

Rajan Shukla

Rajan Shukla

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