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BJP wants to crush people’s right, says Priyanka Gandhi on Himachal crisis

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Shimla, Feb 28: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday slammed the BJP, saying it wants to “crush Himachal people’s right to choose their government by misusing money power, central agencies”.

Amidst the political crisis in the hill state, it is learnt Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge spoke to former party chief Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary Priyanka Vadra on the developments.

Top leadership of the Congress rushed former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar to Shimla to meet legislators of the party, which risks losing power in the state.

A senior Congress legislator told IANS that Priyanka Gandhi is supporting continuation of incumbent Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, at least till the Lok Sabha elections.

“Priyanka Gandhi-ji not only played a crucial role to ensure the return of the party’s government in November 2022 by aggressively campaigning but also reposing faith in the leadership of Sukhu. She doesn’t want to replace Sukhu amidst crisis as it will covey a wrong message ahead of the general elections,” the legislator said, adding she “always considered Himachal as her second home”.

Priyanka has a cottage — with wooden frames and shingled exteriors and a sloping tiled roof — amid thick forests of pine and cedar in Charabra, some 15 km uphill from Shimla.

Even Vikramaditya Singh, the son of six-time Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, before announcing his resignation from the Council of Ministers said, “I have spoken with the high command, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, (party) national president about what all has happened in the last two days. The call has to be taken by the high command.”

Setting aside speculations of his resignation, Chief Minister Sukhu clarified that he has not resigned and the Congress government would complete its full five-year term.

“I haven’t offered any resignation. I am a warrior, will keep fighting,” he asserted.

On his Cabinet colleague Vikramaditya Singh’s resignation, Sukhu said, “He is my brother. He has some grievances and he has talked to me many times. Will sort it out.”

Meanwhile, the Congress Legislative Party is set to meet here in the evening. The party has also asked the observers to speak to all MLAs in the state and prepare a comprehensive report on the crisis.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh told the media in Delhi that the party’s priority was to save its government in Himachal Pradesh.

“Right now, our priority is to save our Congress government because the Congress party had received a clear mandate in December 2022. The people of Himachal Pradesh had rejected the PM, Jagat Prakash Nadda, Anurag Thakur, and Jai Ram Thakur. The mandate was for the Congress party. So, this mandate should be respected,” he said.

“The Modi government has just one guarantee — topple all Congress Governments. We will not let this happen,” he added.

In a stunning upset a day earlier, six Congress MLAs cross voted in the poll for lone Rajya Sabha seat. Those who voted in favour of the BJP’s candidate are Sudhir Sharma (Dharamsala) and Rajinder Rana (Sujanpur), both ministerial aspirants; Inder Dutt Lakhanpal (Badsar); Ravi Thakur (Lahaul-Spiti); Chaitnaya Sharma (Gagret); and Devender Bhutto (Kutlehar). Three Independent MLAs too voted in favour of the BJP.

With this, the Congress has a strength of 34 MLAs, the same number as the BJP.

IANS

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