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6 Rebel Himachal Congress MLAs To Move High Court Over Disqualification

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6 Rebel Himachal Congress MLAs To Move High Court Over Disqualification

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A Himachal Pradesh cabinet minister held a meeting with the rebel MLAs.

New Delhi:

The six Congress MLAs who were disqualified by Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania on Thursday will seek legal recourse and approach the High Court to challenge the decision. 

The six rebel Congress MLAs – Sudhir Sharma, Ravi Thakur, Rajinder Rana, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Chetanya Sharma, and Devinder Kumar Bhutto – had defied the party whip during the recent Rajya Sabha polls by abstaining from voting on the finance bill in the assembly. The ruling Congress party sought their disqualification on the grounds of violating the party’s directive.

According to sources, a Himachal Pradesh cabinet minister held a meeting with the rebel MLAs at a hotel last night. The six rebel MLAs, are reportedly working on their petition to the High Court.

This disqualification move has resulted in vacancies in assembly constituencies Dharamshala, Lahaul and Spiti, Sujanpur, Barsar, Gagret, and Kutlehar. This unprecedented disqualification under the anti-defection law has reduced the effective strength of the House from 68 to 62, with the Congress MLAs decreasing from 40 to 34. The opposition BJP now holds 25 seats.

Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania, in a press conference, announced the disqualification, citing the violation of the anti-defection law as the reason. Mr Pathania said that the disqualified MLAs had defied the party whip and, as a result, ceased to be members of the House immediately.

Senior advocate Satya Pal Jain, representing the disqualified Congress MLAs, argued that the mandatory seven days’ time for replying to the notice was not given, and key documents were not supplied.

The disqualification comes amidst the backdrop of a major setback for the ruling Congress in the state, as the BJP secured the Himachal’s lone Rajya Sabha seat.  In a 30-page order, Mr Pathania underscored the necessity of a swift judgment in such cases to maintain the dignity of democracy and curb the “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram” phenomenon, referencing historical instances of party-switching by legislators.

Congress’ central observer DK Shivakumar on Thursday said that the political turmoil in the state has now subsided.

At a joint press conference attended by party leaders Bhupinder Hooda, Bhupesh Baghel, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, and Himachal Congress chief Pratibha Singh, Mr Shivakumar declared that all internal differences had been ironed out, adding that a coordination committee has been formed to address any future internal matters, with the assurance that the Congress government will complete its full term in the hill state.

“All the MLAs have assured and taken an oath to work together to save the party and the government,” Mr Shivakumar said.

Chief Minister Sukhu, who shouldered the responsibility for Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls, expressed confidence in his government. 

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