Trouble for Sukhu; Congress MLAs being taken to Jaipur amid revolt

As a cautionary measure, Congress is planning to shift all its MLAs to Jaipur while speculations are rife that Congress President Pratibha Singh may break the party after neither son Vikramaditya Singh nor any of her close confidante were being considered for the cabinet.

| Updated: 15 December, 2022 3:15 pm IST

It seems like the much talked about hug between Rahul Gandhi and Pratibha Singh and the Gandhi sibling offering flowers to Virbhadra’s photo, protecting it from falling and other such optics at the swearing-in ceremony of Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu at the Ridge Ground have failed to avert the impending danger of splitting of the party. The newly sworn-in Chief Minister is attempting to reserve maximum cabinet positions for people close to him, alienating several MLAs who still owe allegiance to Virbhadra Singh’s family. This has sparked fears that the CM  may face open rebellion over distribution of portfolios.

As a cautionary measure, Congress is planning to shift all its MLAs to Jaipur while speculations are rife that Congress President Pratibha Singh may break the party after neither son Vikramaditya Singh nor any of her close confidante were being considered for the cabinet. The congress is trying to cover up the internal party conflict and  giving the impression that these MLAs are only joining Rahul Gandhi for Bharat Jodo Yatra, which completes its 100 days on Friday.

Sukhu has already kept home, finance, general administration, personnnel and planning portfolios with himself, leaving little space for other MLAs or his deputy Mukesh Agnihotri for an elbow room, leading to rift within the MLAs. Most legislators are upset that Congress had lost elections under Sukhu’s leadership last time and also couldn’t do much during Lok Sabha polls with his elevation causing heartburn among more than 16 MLAs.

Of them 7 were initially in touch with the BJP with assistance from aides of Jairam Thakur, said a senior Congress leader.

Sources tell us Sukhu is trying to ensure MLAs close to him such as Sudesh Sharma, Rohit Thakur, Sunder Thakur, Kuldeep Rathode make it to the cabinet.

Senior members of the Congress said that while trying to accommodate his own people, Sukhu is ignoring MLAs with significant business community support and legislators from key areas like Mandi, Kullu, Palampur and Kangra. This includes Ashish Butail (Palampur), Raghubir Singh Bali(son of former minsiter GS Bali), Vikramaditya Singh, son of stalwart leader Virbhadra Singh, former Lok Sabha MP Chander Kumar, six-time MLA Harshwardhan Chauhan, ex deputy speaker Jagat Singh Negi.

In an exclusive interview to The New Indian on the night of the swearing-in Sukhu said,” The cabinet will be decided by in-charge Rajeev Shukla.”

Allaying fears of factionalism Sukhu had said Pratibha wasn’t a challenge for him and that the party would be together.

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu is a four time MLA after and his selection as the CM face came after much internal deliberations and amid fears of factionalism in the party. His grand oath taking ceremony on Sunday wore a carnival like look at the Ridge Ground in Shimla. Party workers beamed with pride that for the first departing from the reign of giants like Virbhadra popularly known as “rajaji”, a foot soldier of the party was taking over the top position in the state

On the day of the swearing -in Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi began the ceremony after offering flowers to Virbhadra. He also hugged Pratibha Singh, a photo that went viral and gave a sense of unity among the party’s ranks.

I N Mehta, Congress spokesperson told The New Indian that the party by appointing Sukhu as CM has given a message that even a small party worker can reach the top post.  He also said that the role of Virbhadra Singh in making modern Himachal Pradesh cannot be ignored.

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