Himachal: CM Sukhu calls 'breakfast meeting' of Congress MLAs

The Assembly Speaker to decide on the fate of defected MLAs today

PTI02_28_2024_000294B Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu with Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar during a meeting, in Shimla | PTI

Himachal Pradesh Assembly speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania will pronounce the order on the future of six defected Congress MLAs on Friday morning in a petition filed against them under the anti-defection law.

The petition was filed against the six MLAs namely Rajinder Rana, Sudhir Sharma, Ravi Thakur, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Chetanya Sharma and Divender Kumar (Bhutto), seeking their disqualification.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshwardhan Chauhan told reporters on Wednesday that the decision will be taken by the Speaker. He added that the Congress has proved its majority and passed the budget. "A whip was issued to these MLAs asking them to be present in the House during voting on Wednesday's budget. But they defied it by staying away," Chauhan added. "I told the Speaker about this and a hearing was held today," he added.

Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has called a 'breakfast meeting' of all Congress MLAs on Thursday in Shimla. "It is an important meeting though an informal one. Let's see what happens," MLA Ashish Butail told ANI.

This comes as Sukhu claimed on Wednesday that his government was safe. Chief Minister Sukhu dismissed speculation that he was resigning. "Neither the high command nor anyone else has asked me for resignation," Sukhu told PTI Videos. He said the Congress government will complete its five-year term in the state.   

The Chief Minister added that all fellow party leaders were like his younger siblings, adding, that his party believes in 'forgiveness', and not 'revenge'.

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.

However, Speaker Pathania has said that the majority was still with the Congress Party.

The Congress had sent observers to Shimla in a bid to save the government. Adding to the party's woes, minister Vikramaditya Singh, son of Himachal Congress president Pratibha Singh, submitted his resignation from the council of ministers but hours later softened his stand.

 "There is a difference between taking back the resignation and not pressing it until a final outcome emerges from the ongoing dialogue and the efforts of the central observers. We have had a round of discussions with the central observers and have briefed them on the present situation in the state. Till the final outcome (of the placatory efforts of the central observers), I won't press my resignation," Singh told reporters. 

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