Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu takes oath as 15th Himachal Pradesh CM
Former chief of Congress in Himachal Pradesh Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was sworn in as the 15th chief minister of the Himalayan state in Shimla on Sunday. Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar administered the oath to Sukhu, while Mukesh Agnihotri also took oath as the Deputy CM. The ceremony was attended by Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, party leader Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Why does this story matter?
- On Thursday, the Congress Party won 40 seats out of a total of 68 in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, reducing its main challenger, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to 25 seats.
- Following its claim to form the government on Friday, the grand old party convened a conference of its MLAs in Shimla which decided on the next chief minister.
My responsibility to fulfill promises made to people: Sukhu
After being named CM, Sukhu extended thanks to the Gandhi family and the people of the state. "I am grateful to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and the people of the state. Our government will bring a change," he said. "It is my responsibility to fulfill the promises made to the people of Himachal," he said.
Cabinet will be expanded later
The development is noteworthy since Congress reclaimed power in Himachal after the BJP ruled for five years. Following days of heavy lobbying by hopefuls, the party's central observers nominated Sukhu (58) as the Congress legislative party leader after a meeting of MLAs on Saturday. Meanwhile, Congress has stated that the party-led Cabinet would be expanded later.
Prominent contenders were in the fray
Sukhu won the top job race following a nod by Congress's high command. Others in the fray were state Congress president and Lok Sabha Pratibha Singh and Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Assembly Mukesh Agnihotri. All of them boasted of MLAs' support.
Who is Sukhivinder Singh Sukhu?
Sukhu was born in 1964 and rose to prominence as a grassroots leader. From 2013 until 2019, he was the President of the Himachal Pradesh Congress. The four-time MLA, Sukhu represents the Nadaun Assembly seat in Hamirpur district. In this election, he defeated BJP contender Vijay Kumar by 3,363 votes. Earlier, he was MLA from the seat in 2017 and between 2003 and 2012.
A little about Mukesh Agnihotri
Mukesh Agnihotri, a five-term MLA and former Politician of the Opposition from Himachal Pradesh, is a prominent leader in the Congress. After abandoning journalism, Agnihotri (58) stood for assembly from the Haroli seat. He was re-elected to the same seat in 2007, 2012, 2017, and 2022. He was also a minister in the government of previous Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
Alternate governance custom continues as Congress wins majority
Congress enjoys a comfortable majority in Himachal Pradesh, winning 40 of the state's 68 seats. The BJP, which ruled for the past five years, had to settle with 25 seats. The AAP, which was contesting for the first time, was unable to account, while independent candidates gained three seats. With the Congress's triumph, Himachal's custom of changing governments every five years has persisted.