Congress removes HP leader from party secretary's post amid stepped up efforts to end rebellion in state

Himachal Pradesh Minister Vikramaditya Singh addresses a press conference, in Shimla, Wednesday, March 6, 2024.
Himachal Pradesh Minister Vikramaditya Singh addresses a press conference, in Shimla, Wednesday, March 6, 2024.

New Delhi/Shimla | The Congress has stepped up efforts to set its house in order in Himachal Pradesh and is holding parleys with senior ministers of the state where its government was on the edge after six party MLAs switched sides and helped the BJP nominee win the lone Rajya Sabha seat in the state.

The party on Wednesday removed former minister Sudhir Sharma, who was among the six rebel MLAs who were later disqualified for defying party whip on the state budget, from the post of AICC Secretary with immediate effect.

Sharma is a senior leader from Dharamshala and a former Himachal Pradesh minister.

In a release, Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said party president Mallikarjun Kharge has removed Sharma from the post of secretary with immediate effect.

Sharma responded in a Facebook post saying, "I have been relieved as if all the burden was on my shoulders.... One who does not need anything is Shehanshah."

In another post, he quoted the Bhagwad Gita which said, "Suffering injustice is as much a crime as committing it" and asserted that the decisions taken by them are based on it.

He also said that he will continue to remain dedicated to the state of Himachal Pradesh and its people.

Senior party legislator Rajinder Rana also announced his resignation from the post of working president of Himachal Congress.

"I do hereby resign from the post of working president of HPCC with immediate effect," Rana said in his resignation letter to Kharge that he shared in a post on Facebook.

"Running from Sujanpur to Shimla and from Shimla to Delhi with folded hands for the fulfilment of the promises made by the Congress in the run-up to the last Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh did not yield results. I wished for justice, but got only humiliation," he had said in a Facebook post addressed to people of Himachal on Tuesday.

Sources said Kharge and general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and K C Venugopal have been meeting senior legislators and ministers from Himachal Pradesh after the party managed to save its government in the state by getting the state budget passed through voice vote.

The Congress currently has 34 MLAs while the BJP has 25 and three are independents who had also sided with the BJP in Rajya Sabha polls. The six rebel Congress MLAs have meanwhile challenged their disqualification in Supreme Court.

The sources add that the Congress leadership met state deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri this weekend, while Priyanka Gandhi spoke to senior minister Vikramaditya Singh to help address their concerns.

Efforts are being made by the party leadership to end the rebellion against the Sukhu government in the hill state and Priyanka Gandhi has also stepped up efforts to assuage the feelings of some rebels.

Asked about the possibility of the rebels returning to the party fold, Vikramaditya Singh, who is among the disgruntled leaders and had even submitted his resignation in the midst of the crisis, said, "Everything is possible in politics and all doors are open in politics."

Singh recently met senior Congress leaders in New Delhi, including Priyanka Gandhi, after holding talks with the six rebel MLAs in Panchkula. "I was officially assigned the responsibility of meeting the rebels and have done my duty," he said in Shimla.

Himachal Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu also held consultations with the party leadership in Delhi.

Training his guns on Congress rebels, Chief Minister Sukhu, in his address at a public event in Hamirpur on Wednesday, said he never imagined that a few MLAs from the district will go against the party and hinder the pace of development in the district.

Meanwhile, Sudhir Sharma in a post in Hindi on Facebook said, "When the high command turns blind and those in power become dictators, then I could not have remained silent like a coward. Our responsibility is towards fulfilling the aspirations of people of the state who elected us and we cannot break their confidence."

He said people know that he has raised his voice against injustice even after being in the government without considering political benefits or losses. He said he has always stood for development and will continue to stand by the sentiments of people.

He also alleged that he was being "politically ridiculed" every day and his area was being ignored in development works. "I could not keep quiet in such a situation," he said.

"We cannot see injustice being done to the people of the hill state and cannot see the interests of the state being mortgaged and can't see the pain and anguish of young students sitting on the streets," he said.

Sharma said his patience was tested and he had to finally come out in the open against the "injustice".

"We are proud of taking these decisions inspired by the Bhagwad Gita. We have no repentance over our decisions," Sharma said in his post in Hindi, adding a "new light" is visible in the state.

Earlier, in a cryptic post on Facebook, he had also said, "All the king's horses and all the king's men, couldn't put Humpty together again."

Sukhu trains guns on Cong rebels from Hamirpur, says they deceived govt, their voters

Shimla/Hamirpur | Training his guns on Congress rebels, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu Wednesday said he never imagined that a few MLAs from Hamirpur will go against the party and hinder the pace of development in the district.

Addressing a gathering at Pakka Bharo after laying the foundation stone of Hamirpur bus stand, he targeted Rajinder Rana (Sujanpur assembly seat) and Inder Dutt Lakhanpal (Barsar assembly segment) without naming them and said they have not only deceived the government but also the people of their respective constituencies.

Six Congress MLAs and three independents who were supporting its government voted in favour of BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan in Rajya Sabha polls held on February 27.

On the total nine, Congress MLAs Rajinder Rana and Inder Dutt Lakhanpal and Independent MLA Ashish Sharma (Hamirpur assembly seat) are from Hamirpur, Chief Minister Sukhu's home district.

Sukhu represents the Nadaun assembly constituency which falls under Hamirpur district.

"Running from Sujanpur to Shimla and from Shimla to Delhi with folded hands for the fulfilment of the promises made by the Congress in the run-up to the last Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh did not yield results. I wished for justice, but got only humiliation," rebel party MLA Rajinder Rana had said in a Facebook post addressed to people of Himachal on Tuesday.

Inder Dutt Lakhanpal had said, "Some people will now call us rebels or traitors. But we aren't. We listened to our conscience. It was our personal decision."

Lashing out at the BJP, the chief minister alleged the BJP resorted to unconstitutional tactics to try and overthrow the government. But the people of the state have elected the government and it will complete its tenure, he asserted.

On the bus stand, the CM said its construction work was in a limbo for the past 15 years and now as the foundation stone has been laid, this project will be completed in one and a half years with an outlay of Rs 65 crore.

Earlier, the chief minister inaugurated and laid foundation stones of development projects worth Rs 77 crore. He also flagged off Awahdevi-Hamirpur-Ayodhya HRTC bus service on the occasion.

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