Fear of rebellion grips as BJP gives ticket to all 6 Congress rebels for the June 1 bypolls in Himachal : The Tribune India

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Fear of rebellion grips as BJP gives ticket to all 6 Congress rebels for the June 1 bypolls in Himachal

The strength of Congress has came down from 39 to 33 in now 62-member assembly, original strength is 68

Fear of rebellion grips as BJP gives ticket to all 6 Congress rebels for the June 1 bypolls in Himachal

The BJP has 25 members.



Tribune News Service

Partibha Chauhan

Shimla, March 26

Fear of rebellion has gripped the BJP as the party’s on Tuesday gave ticket to all six Congress rebels for the June 1 assembly by-polls.

Even as senior party leaders, including Leader of Opposition Jai Ram Thakur and state BJP president Rajeev Bindal have been entrusted the task of placating and taking along the party leaders and cadres in the six assembly segments witnessing by-polls, voices of dissent and anger of the leaders who has contested in the 2022 assembly polls seems inevitable.

BJP has given ticket given to all six, Sudhir Sharma (Dharamshala), Rajinder Rana (Sujanpur), Ravi Thakur (Lahaul Spiti), Inder Dutt Lakhanpal (Barsar), Chaitanya Sharma (Gagret) and Devender Bhutto (Kutlehar) for the by-polls for the six assembly segments, which fell vacant due the disqualification of the Congress MLA’s who were unseated under Anti-Defection law for defying the party whip during the cut motion and passing of the budget in the assembly on February 27 and 28, 2024.

There was speculation that BJP might not give ticket to all six disqualified Congress MLA’s who formally joined the BJP on March 23 but with the list of candidates for the by-polls being issued by BJP CEC today, it has become clear that the saffron party has chosen to back them. Anticipating that there could be rebellion from leaders like former minister Virender Kanwar (Kutlehar) and Rajesh Thakur (Gagret), the high command has directed the top state leadership to handle any such crisis.

Needless to say that the revolt by party leaders against the decision of the high command to field all six Congress rebels could damage the prospects of these disqualified MLAs. In a bid to exert pressure on the high command to not overlook their claim, Kanwar and Thakur have been campaigning right from the day the Vidhan Sabha Speaker disqualified the six rebels from the assembly membership on February 29.

Former MLA and Congress leader Rakesh Kalia who  had joined the BJP in 2022 on being denied the party ticket from Gagret quit the party when the Congress rebel Chaitnaya Sharma was inducted into BJP, last week.

Similarly, former BJP minister Ram Lal Markanda (Lahaul-Spiti), too, has in no uncertain terms made it clear that he will contest the bypoll, irrespective of whether the BJP gives him the ticket or not.

The BJP Block unit of Lahaul Spiti also resigned against party’s decision to give the party ticket to Ravi Thakur. In a show of strength, the block BJP held a meeting of all office bearers and party workers and resigned from the BJP. They also pledged support to the former BJP minister Markanda and said they will support him in the election.

Former Minister Ramesh Dhawala has also expressed his angst on being denied entry into the Dehra (Kangra) Block BJP office for holding a party meeting. He is enraged at the entry of Independent MLA Hoshiyar Singh into the BJP and the prospect of his being fielded by the party as and when bypolls are held from the constituencies of the three Independents MLA’s who have tendered their resignation, which is yet to be accepted.

The MLAs had last week joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Anurag Thakur, former Himachal chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and its state unit president Rajeev Bindal.

The Congress government led by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was last month plunged into a crisis after the BJP won the Rajya Sabha poll for the state's lone seat due to the support of these nine MLAs.

Though Sukhu has been putting up a brave face and there appears to be no immediate threat to his government, the BJP is looking to bring down his dispensation with bypoll wins amid a view that it may draw more legislators of the ruling party into its fold.

With the disqualification of the six Congress MLAs, the strength of the ruling party came down from 39 to 33 in the now 62-member assembly. Its original strength is 68. The BJP has 25 members.

The resignations of the three Independent MLAs and them joning the BJP have further led to problems in the Congress.

 

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