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Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu to take oath as Himachal CM today | India

Shimla: Four-time MLA and chairman of the Himachal Pradesh Congress’ state election campaign committee Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu will take oath as the new chief minister of the State on Sunday. Mukesh Agnihotri will also take charge as his deputy.

The swearing-in ceremony will take place at the Ridge at 12pm and will be attended by Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi among others. 

The party’s central observers announced the election of 58-year-old Sukhu as the Congress legislature party leader after the meeting of MLAs on Saturday evening here following days of intense lobbying by aspirants including Pratibha Singh, the state unit chief and wife of late party stalwart Virbhadra Singh.

The swearing-in ceremony will take place on Sunday and senior leaders including party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi will attend.

Cabinet expansion will be undertaken later, AICC in-charge for Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla said.

The party’s central observers along with Sukhu, Pratibha Singh and other leaders called on Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar and staked claim to form the government.

I am from a humble background and started my political career from the grassroots at the age of 17… I am here to win the hearts and fulfil all the poll promises made by the Congress, Sukhu, who had been a known detractor of Virbhadra Singh, told reporters, and thanked the party and the Gandhi family for their support.

Son of a road transport corporation driver, Sukhu had a modest beginning and used to run a milk counter at Chhota Shimla in his early days. He was the general secretary of the state unit of the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and later became the president of the student body. He did his MA and LLB from Himachal Pradesh University and was elected twice as councillor of Shimla Municipal Corporation.

He won the assembly election for the first time in 2003 from Nadaun, retained the seat in 2007 but was defeated in 2012 and won again in 2017 and 2022

I express my gratitude to Sonia Gandhi ji, Priyanka Gandhi ji and Rahul Gandhi ji and Kharge ji for giving me this responsibility and thank the people of the state for their support, the chief minister-designate said.

Replying to a question, he said that Agnihotri was “like a brother and we would work together for the development of the state and welfare of the weaker section”.

Leader of the opposition in the outgoing Assembly Mukesh Agnihotri was among the frontrunners for the top post.

Sukhu remained the party’s state unit president for a record six years from 2013 to 2019 despite being frequently at loggerheads with Virbhadra Singh.

Upset supporters of Pratibha Singh, who had earlier said that Virbhadra Singh’s family cannot be ignored, raised slogans that Sukhu nahi Chalega and Rani sahiba ko mukhyamantri banao.

They blocked the gates of hotel Cecil where the party’s central observers – Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda – and Rajeev Shukla were staying.

“We accept the decision of the high command,” Pratibha Singh told reporters after the CLP meeting on Saturday.

Party sources indicated that Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh will be included in the Cabinet. Pratibha Singh is an MP from Mandi and did not contest the Assembly election.

Sukhu later paid a courtesy visit to outgoing chief minister Jairam Thakur.

Meanwhile, celebrations started at the house of Sukhu in Nadaun, with people bursting crackers and dancing. This is the second time that Hamirpur district has got a chief minister after BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Earlier, intense lobbying continued for the chief minister’s post on Saturday, a day after the newly elected Congress MLAs unanimously passed a resolution authorising the party president to pick the legislature party leader.

From the morning itself, Congress MLAs made a beeline to Cecil Hotel in Shimla where the party’s central observers were staying

The Congress wrested power from the BJP in the hill state winning 40 of the 68 assembly seats. The polling was held on November 12 and the results were declared Thursday. 

(With inputs from PTI)