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'See what happens in Himachal in 2 days'

February 29, 2024 15:53 IST
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'The Congress government is on its way out in Himachal Pradesh.'


IMAGE: Jairam Thakur, Leader of the Opposition in the Himachal Pradesh assembly, right, meets Governor Shiv Pratap Shukla in Shimla, February 29, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

On Thursday, February 29, 2024, Himachal Pradesh assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania disqualified six Congress MLAs for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha poll and ensuring the defeat of party candidate Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Singhvi's defeat at the hands of BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan has put Sukhvinder Singh Sukku's 14-month-old government in danger.

There is talk in political circles that the Congress is all set to lose the only state in North India where it is in power.

So what prompted these Congress MLAs to vote against the party whip and opt for the BJP candidate?

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ spoke to Davinder Kumar (Bhutto) on why he voted against Singhvi, and what the future holds for Sukku's government.

Your party has disqualified you for cross voting in violation of the party whip in Himachal Pradesh.

I don't think it matters because I voted in the interests of Himachal Pradesh state.

I voted for a Himachali candidate (Harsh Mahajan) rather than voting for an outsider like Singhvi who was the Congress candidate. And by doing so, the whip of the party does not apply to me and my vote.

The decision taken by the assembly over my disqualification is wrong.

What will you do next considering that you have been disqualified as an MLA?

My advocate has gone to court to appeal against this decision. The process will now follow in the court of law.

We cannot support anything that is not in the interests of Himachal Pradesh.

Are you implying the Congress should not have made Singhvi its candidate for the Rajya Sabha as he is not from Himachal Pradesh?

Yes, Singhvi is an outsider. The party was wrong to impose him on us. We MLAs wanted someone from our state to win the Rajya Sabha seat. We have so many Himachalis who are educated in different fields.

Couldn't the Congress find a single person from Himachal to make him its candidate? The party failed us.

In Maharashtra, when Imran Pratapgarhi was nominated for the Rajya Sabha, there were protests from local Congressmen as he was from Uttar Pradesh. But no one there voted against his candidature, there was no cross voting.

Why did you not follow the party high command like Maharashtra Congress MLAs did?

There is a big difference between Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh.

Himachal is a small state compared to Maharashtra.

The locals of Himachal want their own man to be sent to the Rajya Sabha. This is what even my constituency people wanted.

Therefore, I voted for a Himachali rather than an outsider who was from my party.

Didn't you feel that by cross voting, you were shaking the edifice of the Congress in Himachal which is the only state in North India where the party is in power?

You just be patient. Wait for two days more and just check what will happen in the state.

Are you indicating the Congress government is on its way out?

Yes, the Congress government is on its way out in Himachal Pradesh.

The people of Himachal have lost faith in the Congress party and the Sukhvinder Singh Sukku government.


The Sukku government is always complaining they do not have funds to work in the state. Shortage of funds has just become an excuse for the government to not do any work.

The HP government is working only to appease and fulfill the needs of its coterie. Only yesterday, a minister like Vikramaditya Singh resigned and made his own list of complaints against the Sukku government.

Vikramaditya was upset because the HP government did not install a statue of his late father Virbhadra Singh, who was a revered politician.

He was a six-time chief minister. The late Virbhadraji is the man who made Himachal Pradesh famous across India. He made the state what it is today.

We call him Raja Saheb and people worship him in the state. He is the man who brought me into the Congress party and it was due to his blessings that I was elected as a Congress MLA. I won from Kutlehar assembly seat, which was a record because for the last 32 years the Congress party never won this seat.

I won because of Raja Saheb, but just see how the Sukku government treated him after his death. By not installing his statue, the Sukku government will pay for it.

What other mistakes did Sukku commit, in your opinion?

He cried all the time that there was no money to run government affairs.

We had given a guarantee to voters in our manifesto that we will fulfill certain promises, which we did not do even after one year of our rule.

The people of Himachal are angry with us. They are asking what happened to the poll promise of ours that we will pay Rs 1,500 per month to women.

I was facing such embarrassing questions from the public. We were not fulfilling our promise. I told this to Sukku as well as to the Congress high command, but no attention was paid to my questions.

The high command just ignored us and said we will do something on this, but nothing happened on the ground, as the women didn't get any money.

But if the Modi government is not giving tax dues to Opposition ruled states, as Mamata Banerjee too says, how can Sukku give money when Himachal Pradesh lacks funds?

There are many schemes from where the money comes to Himachal state. But what happens in Himachal is that Sukku just passes on that money to his constituency or his selected few favourite MLAs' constituencies.

There are a total of 15 Congress MLAs who are against Sukku now. Just wait and see how the drama unfolds.

BJP MLAs too have been suspended. How will the government fall when the Opposition does not have the numbers in the assembly?

Everything will happen. The governor is sitting there, then you have the President of India too seeing what is going on in Himachal Pradesh.

When the Congress won Himachal Pradesh it was a big victory because the people were unhappy with the BJP and threw them out.

People did vote for the Congress with a lot of expectations.

The youth of Himachal are upset because in the last 14 months of Congress rule, the government has not done anything for them.

We are going to have parliamentary elections and there is not one thing that the Congress has to showcase to the people of Himachal as to why the people should vote for them.

Unemployed youth are protesting on the streets.

I raised this issue in the assembly too, but nothing happened.

Don't you feel the people will always question your motives and allege that you benefited in monetary terms, therefore you cross voted against the party's whip?

I have not benefited monetarily in any way to vote for the BJP candidate. I voted for a Himachali and not an outsider.

I came to politics for social service and I will keep doing social service.

I do not want any posts or money. I kept doing social service in the past and will do in the future too.

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