Himachal CM Sukhu offers to quit as Cong feels rebel heat, Speaker suspends 15 BJP MLAs

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu casts his vote for the Rajya Sabha elections, at Assembly complex in Shimla, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Photo: PTI

Amid a fresh scramble for power in the state, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has indicated his willingeness to quit the post, Manorama News reported. As per the report, the CM has already indicated this to the party high command. However, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and the Himachal CM later denied these reports.

Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania on Wednesday suspended 15 BJP MLAs, including Leader of Opposition Jai Ram Thakur, and adjourned the House.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshwardhan Chauhan moved the motion, seeking the suspension of the BJP members for allegedly disrespecting the speaker and misbehaving with him. To ensure smooth running of the House, these MLAs should be suspended, Chauhan said as the resolution was passed by a voice vote.

Apart from Thakur, the suspended MLAs are Vipin Parmar, Vinod Kumar, Hans Raj, Janak Raj, Balbir Verma, Trilok Jamwal, Deep Raj, Surinder Shouri, Puran Thakur, Inder Singh Gandhi, Dilip Thakur, Randhir Sharma, Lokender Kumar, and Ranvir Singh.

The move comes a day after the BJP on Tuesday won the state's lone Rajya Sabha seat with its candidate Harsh Mahajan defeating Congress stalwart Abhishek Manu Singhvi due to cross-voting by MLAs of the state's ruling Congress party.

The six Congress MLAs and three independent legislators, who voted for the BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls in Himachal Pradesh, reached the state Assembly on Wednesday. According to reports, the MLAs were "disappointed" with the working style of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and seeking his replacement.

Vikramaditya Singh addresses a press conference, in Shimla, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Singh has resigned as Himachal Pradesh minister a day after Rajya Sabha election results. Photo: PTI

The Himachal Pradesh BJP had sought intervention of Governor Shiv Pratap Shukla amid apprehensions that the Assembly Speaker might suspend its MLAs or disqualify the Congress legislators who cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha election. Leader of Opposition Jai Ram Thakur said that the Rajya Sabha election on Tuesday made it clear that the Congress government was in minority and demanded Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu resign. They have sought a trust vote.

Vikramaditya Singh resigns
Putting more pressure on the Congress party, state Works Minister Vikramaditya Singh on Wednesday announced his resignation from the cabinet claiming he was 'hurt' and 'humiliated'.

"I am submitting my resignation to the chief minister and the governor," he told reporters. "There have been attempts to humiliate and undermine me from some quarters and in spite of reservations, I supported the government," he said.

Vikramaditya Singh, as he announced his resignation, said he was "deeply hurt" with the transpirings over the past two days and said there's a need to ponder what went wrong for the Congress.

He said he has apprised Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi about the developments and the ball is now in the party high command's court.

He said that the 2022 assembly election in the state was fought in the name of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, also his father. "There was no poster, or hoarding or banner which did not carry his picture. There was a full-page ad with his picture in the newspapers a day before voting."

But after victory when the matter of his statue came, the government failed to decide the location. "It is not a political but an emotional thing for a son," Vikramaditya Singh said.

He also quoted a couplet by the last Mughal Emperor of India Bahadur Shah Zafar, "Kitna hai bad-naseeb 'Zafar' dafn ke liye, do gaz zameen bhi na mili kuch-e-yaar main." (How unlucky you are 'Zafar' that you did not even get a 2 metre plot for final resting in your beloved country).
(With PTI inputs)

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