BJP fields disqualified Congress MLAs to contest Himachal Pradesh bypolls

Himachal CM Sukhu says their candidature proves there was horse-trading

Himachal Pradesh disqualified Congress MLAs (File) Union Minister Anurag Thakur, former Himachal Pradesh CM and BJP leader Jai Ram Thakur and party leader Arun Singh with former Congress party MLAs who joined BJP in New Delhi | PTI

The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded six disqualified Congress legislators to contest the bypolls to Assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh. The MLAs, along with three independents had joined BJP recently.

The Bharatiya Janata Party declared candidates for bypolls to assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Karnataka on Tuesday. The party also announced candidates for assembly seats in Sikkim, where assembly election would be held along with Lok Sabha polls.

Assembly elections in Sikkim are held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls, and the BJP recently broke its alliance with the state's ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha.

In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP has named Sudhir Sharma (Dharamshala), Ravi Thakur (Lahaul and Spiti), Rajinder Rana (Sujanpur), Inder Dutt Lakhanpal (Barsar), Chetanya Sharma (Gagret) and Devinder Kumar Bhutto (Kutlehar) as its candidates. The former Congress legislators were disqualified for defying the party whip and voting for BJP's candidate during the recently held Rajya Sabha polls in the state.

Reacting to the announcement, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said, "This proves BJP indulged in horse-trading. The people of the state will teach them a lesson."

The Congress, which had a comfortable majority in the 68-member Assembly has to keep its bloc together to retain power in the state. Before disqualification, including three independents, Congress had a comfortable majority of 43 MLAs in the House and BJP had 25 members.

Following the disqualification of six Congress MLAs, the halfway mark in the House is now 32 and Congress currently only has 34 members. With the independents joining the party, BJP’s strength has increased to 28 in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly.

-with agency inputs.

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