Himachal Pradesh: Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has been elected chief minister by the Congress
The Himachal Pradesh Congress high command on Saturday decided to bring the party out of the shadow cast by the late Virbhadra Singh by appointing Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu as Chief Minister, overruling the claim made by Pratibha Singh, the former Chief Minister’s wife.
As Deputy Chief Minister, Mukesh Agnihotri will replace Mukesh Agnihotri, who was Leader of the Opposition in the previous Assembly. According to sources, the party’s high command decided not to make Vikramaditya Singh the second deputy chief minister. It would be possible to accommodate him as a minister.
On Sunday, Sukhu and Agnihotri will take the oath of office at 11 a.m.. K C Venugopal, Congress General Secretary in charge of the Organisation, tweeted: “Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will attend the swearing-in ceremony.”
After defeating the BJP in the state by securing 40 out of the 68 House seats, Congress has gained control of the state once again.
The party’s choice of CM is a major setback for Pratibha, who had openly staked claim to the top position invoking the legacy of Singh, the five-time Chief Minister who passed away in July.
The first time Singh became Chief Minister was in 1983. After becoming Chief Minister in 1985, 1993, 2004 and 2012, he remained in that position for a further four years.
Uphill road ahead
While Sukhu may have prevailed over Pratibha Singh to become the next Chief Minister, the road ahead will not be easy. Sukhu will need to take everyone along with him since the divided Congress does not have a large majority. Formation of the Cabinet will be the first challenge; the biggest challenge will be the 2024 LS test.
As a result of the high command’s decision, Pratibha and her son reluctantly accepted it. It is believed that the majority of MLAs supported Sukhu, which led to the high command’s decision in his favour.
In the presence of Pratibha, Sukhu and Agnihotri, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, the AICC observer, announced the party decision. Rajeev Shukla, AICC in-charge of the state, as well as AICC observer Bhupinder Singh Hooda were in attendance.
In order to stake a claim to the formation of the government, the observers made a dash to the Raj Bhavan to meet with the Governor.
Sukhu, who appeared visibly emotional, promised a government that is clean and honest. According to him, he has a responsibility to fulfill the promises that the party has made to the public.
In calling Agnihotri his brother, he stated that they would work together. In addition to 38 other players on the team, he stated that all will be assigned responsibilities.
Rather than merely being in power, we wished to secure power. Our goal is to change the current system. Please give me some time. I believe we must work hard and strive to bring in a new system and new thinking,” he stated.
As a four-time member of the legislature from the Nadaun constituency in Himachal Pradesh and head of the state’s Congress election committee, Sukhu began his political career in student politics and rose to become state unit chief.
It was in 2013 that Sukhu was appointed president of the state party. He is a popular leader and is well known for his time management abilities. Having contested his first Assembly election from Nadaun in 2003, he was re-elected in 2007 and 2017 to the same seat.
In southwest Himachal, Mukesh Agnihotri ran from Haroli. He has been elected as the leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) following the 2017 Assembly elections. During his career as a journalist, Agnihotri served on various panels and committees, including the Himachal State Press Advisory Committee, the Government Pahari Language Committee, and others.
It was in 2003 that Agnihotri ran for his first election from the Santokgarh Assembly seat in the Una district. In 2007, he was re-elected to represent the constituency. The Haroli constituency, which was known as Santokhgarh before delimitation, was won by him in the Assembly elections of 2012 and 2017.
During his tenure as Leader of the Opposition, Agnihotri raised important issues such as corruption, price hikes and unemployment to corner the BJP government led by Jairam Thakur.