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Will not hesitate to...: Cong on Himachal turmoil

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
February 28, 2024 19:17 IST
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As the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh faces a risk of collapse, the party on Wednesday said it was weighing all options and will not hesitate to take tough steps to respect the people's mandate given to them.

IMAGE: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu speaks to the media during the budget session in Shimla on Wednesday. Photograph: ANI Photo

Six Congress MLAs voted in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls in Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday with sources claiming they are "disappointed" with the working style of Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

Addressing reporters in New Delhi, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said party president Mallikarjun Kharge has despatched three senior observers -- Bhupesh Baghel, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and D K Shivakumar -- to Shimla.

The BJP cannot take away the mandate of the people of Himachal Pradesh through its 'Operation Lotus' and the Congress will take all steps necessary to protect it, Ramesh said, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief J P Nadda were rejected by the voters of the hill state in the last assembly elections.

Ramesh said the Congress president has spoken to the observers and AICC in-charge for the state Rajeev Shukla and has asked them to speak to all MLAs, including those who are disgruntled, and submit a comprehensive report to him soon. The future course of action will be decided after that, he said.

"The Congress will not hesitate to take some tough steps as the party is our priority and we will not let people's mandate be betrayed in Himachal Pradesh," Ramesh told reporters.

"We cannot lose the mandate through the BJP's 'Operation Lotus' as only the people of the state can take it back," Ramesh asserted, adding that the BJP has done so earlier in Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra.

"Individual's interests are not important, the party is supreme and so is the people's mandate," he said.


The Congress rebels are seeking to install a person of their choice as the new chief minister of the state.

Earlier in the day, former chief minister Virbhadra Singh's son Vikramaditya Singh resigned as a minister and said he was pained to take this step out of frustration and humiliation.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in a post on X, said in a democracy, the general public has the right to choose the government of their choice.

The people of Himachal used this right and formed the Congress government with a clear majority, she claimed.

"But BJP wants to crush this right of the people of Himachal by misusing the money power, power of agencies and power of the Centre. The way the BJP is using government security and machinery for this purpose is unprecedented in the history of the country. If a party with 25 MLAs is challenging the majority of 43 MLAs, then it clearly means that it is dependent on horse-trading of representatives," she said in a post in Hindi on X.

"This attitude of theirs is unethical and unconstitutional. The people of Himachal and the country are watching everything. The BJP, which did not stand with the people of the state during the natural disaster, now wants to push the state into political disaster," Vadra said.

Ramesh said the BJP was trying to come to power in Himachal Pradesh through the backdoor.

"This is yet another way of trying to come to power through the backdoor," he said, adding that the BJP did so in Goa, Madhya Pradesh and the latest attempt is in Himachal Pradesh.

He also said that accountability will also be fixed for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha poll in Himachal Pradesh, which the Congress nominee Abhishek Singhvi lost.

"Our priority is to save our Congress government. The people of Himachal rejected the prime minister, BJP president J P Nadda and Jairam Thakur and gave a clear mandate to the Congress. We should respect the mandate of the people. We will not allow the Modi government to bring down the Congress government," he said.

Sources said the Congress president is learnt to have spoken to former party chief Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on the Himachal developments.

Shivakumar decried the BJP and called its tactics "worrisome" for democracy.

"As per the directions of the Congress high command, I am reaching #HimachalPradesh. Also, there is absolutely no need to indulge in any hearsay, as I am confident that Congress Party legislators will be loyal to the party and stay put with the mandate that has been accorded to them," he said on X.

"However, what should be questioned and worrisome is the extremes to which BJP is going in terms of acquiring power, deliberately attempting to crush democracy and public mandate in the process," he added.

Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker suspended 15 BJP MLAs for misbehaviour and adjourned the house.

The state budget is pending approval in the assembly and the BJP, with the help of Congress rebels, is ensuring that the budget is not passed and is seeking a division of votes.

In a stunning upset for the ruling Congress in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP on Tuesday won the state's lone Rajya Sabha seat with its candidate Harsh Mahajan defeating Congress stalwart Singhvi and apparently set the stage for a no-trust motion in the assembly.

The contest tied with both the Congress and the BJP candidates getting 34 votes, indicating that at least six Congress MLAs voted against the party. The result was then declared based on a draw of lots, officials said.

In the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly, the Congress has 40 MLAs while the BJP has 25 legislators. The remaining three seats are held by independents.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.