BJP nominee Mahajan wins lone RS seat in Cong-ruled Himachal

Shimla, Feb 27 : BJP’s Harsh Mahajan, a Congress rebel who was once known for his proximity to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu, got elected to the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday by defeating Congress nominee Abhishek Manu Singhvi amid reports of cross-voting by at least six ruling party legislators.

Both the candidates secured 34 votes each in the 68-member House, including three Independent legislators who are believed to have voted in favour of the BJP. Mahajan was eventually declared the winner through draw of lots.

Adding salt to Congress’ wounds, BJP leader and former Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Sukhu, claiming that the Congress has been reduced to minority following its defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls.

Cross-voting haunted the Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh after the main opposition BJP made the battle for the lone Rajya Sabha seat in the state challenging by fielding a Congress rebel, who for over a decade played a crucial role in strengthening the party’s organisational base at the grassroots.

The BJP had accused the Congress of putting pressure on its legislators by issuing a whip to vote for the party candidate, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was facing the outsider’s tag.

The Congress enjoys a comfortable majority of 40 MLAs in the 68-member House. The BJP has a strength of 25 legislators. There are three Independent legislators, comprising two BJP rebels and one from the Congress.

Three-time legislator Mahajan had left the Congress and joined the BJP just ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections after terming the grand old party as ‘directionless’ and ‘lacking vision’.

Meranwhile, IANS has learnt that six Congress legislators, including Rajinder Rana and former Cabinet minister Sudhir Sharma — who have been vocal against their government for its reported failure to fufil its poll promises — voted in favour of the BJP.

Sujanpur legislator Rana and Dharamsala MLA Sharma were strong candidates for ministerial berths, but they were reportedly sidelined owing to intra-party squabbles.

Ahead of the announcement of the RS poll results, Chief Minister Sukhu claimed that the CRPF and Haryana Police convoy took away five-six legislators.

“I can say that the people who have gone away are being contacted by their families… I urge them to contact their families. There is no need to worry,” he told the media here.

It is learnt that nine legislators were taken to a resort in Haryana’s Panchkula.

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