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March 1, 2024

Himachal Pradesh Political Turmoil: Challenges Mount for Chief Minister Sukhu

The defeat of the Congress candidate in the recent Rajya Sabha elections has exacerbated the political crisis brewing in Himachal Pradesh, signaling a daunting road ahead for Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu. Despite efforts by the Congress high command to quell discontent against Sukhu, the party’s recent setbacks underscore the formidable challenges ahead.

Congress’ loss in the tiebreaker vote, where Abhishekh Manu Singhvi was defeated by BJP’s Harsh Mahajan, has laid bare the internal divisions within the party. Six Congress legislators, vocal about their grievances against Sukhu’s leadership even before the Rajya Sabha candidate announcement, defied party lines and cross-voted. Sukhu, known for his strong organizational background, seemed oblivious to the brewing discontent, relying instead on a circle lacking experience in electoral politics. This defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls due to cross-voting has significantly tarnished Sukhu’s image, especially as the party gears up for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, further compounded by Sukhu’s perceived lack of public accessibility.

The simmering crisis within the Himachal Pradesh Congress, exacerbated by the defeat in the Rajya Sabha elections, comes at a critical juncture for Sukhu’s year-old government. The BJP’s eagerness to destabilize the Sukhu-led administration, coupled with internal dissent, threatens to undermine the party’s unity ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha polls. While temporary calm was achieved with the passing of the Finance Bill and the suspension of six rebel Congress MLAs, this move risks alienating the party’s rank and file. Political analysts emphasize the urgent need for the Congress leadership to prioritize unity and cohesion, focusing on presenting a united front against a formidable BJP adversary in the state.

The narrow victory margin in the 2022 assembly elections, where Congress wrested power from the BJP, underscores the delicate balance of power in Himachal Pradesh. Despite promises made during the election campaign, the Congress government’s failure to fulfill key guarantees, such as the resumption of the old pension scheme and the creation of employment opportunities, has provided ammunition for BJP criticism.

In addition to internal challenges, the BJP’s strong performance in recent Lok Sabha elections poses a significant threat to the Congress. With massive leads, BJP candidates like Anurag Thakur and Suresh Kashyap secured victories, highlighting the uphill battle faced by the Congress. However, amidst these challenges, Congress managed to secure a victory in Mandi, with Pratibha Singh emerging triumphant in a closely contested race.

As Himachal Pradesh braces for further political turbulence, the path ahead for Chief Minister Sukhu and the Congress party remains fraught with obstacles, demanding swift and decisive action to navigate the stormy waters of state politics.

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