Battle of nerves on in HP as Sukhu govt gets lease of life by accepting resignation of 3 Independent MLAs

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu speaks to the media amid dramatic developments that included the resignation of minister Vikramaditya Singh and the suspension of 15 BJP MLAs by the Speaker a day after cross-voting.
Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu speaks to the media amid dramatic developments that included the resignation of minister Vikramaditya Singh and the suspension of 15 BJP MLAs by the Speaker a day after cross-voting.

New Delhi | The battle of nerves between the ruling Congress and the BJP continues in Himachal Pradesh with the Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu government getting another lease of life and stability after the acceptance of resignations of three Independent MLAs, who had cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha polls.

The decision of Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania of accepting the resignations of Independent MLAs K L Thakur (Nalagarh), Hoshiyar Singh (Dehra) and Ashish Sharma (Hamirpur) comes a day ahead of results of the bye-elections to six assembly constituencies on June 4.

There has been a tussle for power in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh ever since the BJP won the Rajya Sabha election after six Congress and three Independent MLAs switched sides and cross-voted in favour of BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan.

Ever since its victory in Rajya Sabha election, the BJP has been sniffing an opportunity and a change of government after some Congress MLAs have switched sides.

The Congress currently has 34 MLAs in its favour and the BJP has 25 in the Himachal Assembly whose strength has come down to 59 now. Six Congress MLAs were disqualified earlier and the resignations of three independent MLAs were accepted on Monday creating three more vacancies in the 68-member House.

Once the results are out on Tuesday, the strength of the Himachal Assembly will rise to 65, but since its strength is 34 it will remain in majority irrespective of the outcome of the bypolls.

Two sitting MLAs Vikramaditya Singh and Vinod Sultanpuri are also contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Mandi and Shimla constituencies and their victory may usher in fresh bye-elections in their constituencies of Shimla Rural and Kasauli.

"By accepting the resignations of three independent MLAs, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has ensured that his government will survive for another few months. The decision comes as a reprieve for the Congress," a senior BJP leader said.

Himachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri, however, accused the BJP of making all out efforts to destabilise the state government, which has just emerged out of the crisis created by last year's heavy rains during the monsoons that caused widespread devastation and loss of lives.

"The BJP is trying to fish in troubled water and is continuing its efforts to destabilise the Congress government in the state with use of money power. It has tried so earlier, but the government survived and will survive despite the BJP's attempts to negate the people's mandate in favour of the Congress," he told PTI.

Agnihotri asserted that the Congress government will complete its full five-year term.

"No one will be able to destabilise our government despite the best efforts by the BJP and the use of its money power," he said.

Agnihotri also claimed that the people have given their verdict to the BJP, which is trying to "steal" their mandate by creating instability in Himachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has also reserved its order on a petition filed by BJP leader Satpal Singh Satti and 11 other BJP MLAs against the appointment of six Congress MLAs as chief parliamentary secretaries by the Sukhu government.

The High Court verdict may have a bearing on the state assembly and politics in the state in case it strikes down the appointment of six chief parliamentary secretaries or disqualify the MLAs, which will create fresh instability in the state.

The state government has appointed six chief parliamentary secretaries namely Sanjay Awasthi from Arki Assembly constituency, Sundar Singh from Kullu, Ram Kumar from Doon, Mohan Lal Barakta from Rohru, Ashish Butail from Palampur and Kishori Lal from Baijnath.

A Congress leader, however, admitted that the Speaker has powers to decide on disqualification, he has proved his mettle to the party so far in handling the affairs and saving the state government.

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