Himachal crisis: Speaker disqualifies six rebel Congress MLAs

MLAs attracted provisions of anti-defection law against themselves, says Speaker

Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker on Thursday disqualified six Congress legislators under provisions of anti-defection law for defying party whip. The move comes as Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu invited party legislators for a breakfast meeting.

The Congress had filed a petition against the six MLAs, namely Rajinder Rana, Sudhir Sharma, Ravi Thakur, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Chetanya Sharma and Divender Kumar (Bhutto), seeking their disqualification for defying the party whip to vote in favour of the government on Financial Bill. Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania told presspersons, "Six MLAs, who contested on Congress symbol, attracted provisions of anti-defection law against themselves. I declare that the six people cease to be members of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly with immediate effect,” ANI reported.

The dramatic turn of events began unfolding in the hill state on Wednesday after Congress candidate Abhishek Manu Singhvi lost the Rajya Sabha election as several party MLAs cross-voted for the BJP.

Singhvi was defeated by BJP's Harsh Mahajan on Tuesday through a draw of lots after the two candidates bagged 34 votes each. In the 68-member House, the Congress has 40 seats and the support of three independents, while the BJP has only 25 members.

The Rajya Sabha poll results rang alarm bells for the Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu government, with reports claiming that the BJP is likely to bring a no-confidence motion in the assembly later this week.

In a damage control exercise, Congress chief Kharge sent three observers to Shimla to talk to the disgruntled MLAs and Singh.

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