Is Congress Govt In Himachal Pradesh In Trouble, How Are Numbers Stacked In Assembly?

In the 68-member Himachal assembly, the Congress party has 40 MLAs, the BJP 25, and there are also three Independent MLAs.


Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu with Congress candidate Abhishek Manu Singhvi addresses a press conference after the later lost the election for the Rajya Sabha seat, in Shimla, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Photo: PTI

Following setback in the Rajya Sabha elections when Congress MLAs in Himachal Pradesh cross-voted in favour of the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a rebellion erupted in the party on Wednesday when a minister from the state's leading political family resigned and the BJP threatened to bring a trust vote in the assembly.

Earlier on Tuesday, six Congress MLAs went against the party line and voted for the BJP's candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections. Following the cross-voting, Jairam Thakur, BJP's top leader in the state and Leader of Opposition, said CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has lost the majority in the house and should resign.


Thakur reasserted Sukhu's loss of majority on Wednesday and indicated that the initiation of the motion of no-confidence against Sukhu was imminent.

Here we explain how numbers are stacked in the Himachal assembly, how Sukhu's government has been plunged in a crisis, and what's the likely road ahead.

How Are Numbers Stacked In Himachal Assembly?

In the 68-member Himachal assembly, the Congress has clear majority with 40 MLAs. The majority-mark is 35. The BJP has 20 MLAs and there are three Independent MLAs.

While such an arrangement would place a party in power comfortably, that has not been the case for Congress since Tuesday. In the Rajya Sabha elections to the state's only seat, six party MLAs cross-voted in favour of the BJP's candidate. The three Independent MLAs also voted in favour of the BJP's candidate. This meant that the BJP's candidate, Harsh Mahajan, defeated Abhishek Manu Singhvi of Congress.


Following the cross-voting, there were reports that the six Congress MLAs had reached Haryana's Panchkula to camp there in the cordon of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Haryana Police personnel.

If these six Congress MLAs who cross-voted in favour of the BJP have indeed crossed over to the BJP, then that would bring the Congress party's numbers to 34, one short of the majority-mark. That way, Sukhu would lose the majority in the house.

If these six MLAs and three Independents vote for the BJP, then the saffron party's numbers in the house would be 34. While he did not cross-vote, Congress MLA Vikramaditya Singh, the son of late Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh, has also rebelled against Sukhu and has resigned from the Sukhu ministry. If he also crosses over, then the BJP would touch the majority-mark of 35.

There is, however, a catch here. On Wednesday, 15 MLAs of the BJP were suspended for unruly behaviour in the house, which has brought down to the effective strength of the assembly to 53. This means that the Sukhu government could sail through even with 34 MLAs.

"The numbers game was further muddied this morning after the Assembly Speaker expelled 15 BJP MLAs for sloganeering and alleged misconduct. This means the effective strength of the House falls to 53 and the effective majority to 27 — which is low enough for the Congress to clear any challenge," reported NDTV.

BJP Calls For CM Sukhu's Resignation, Claims Loss Of Majority


The BJP on Wednesday repeated the calls for Himachal CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu to resign. The party claimed that Sukhu has lost the majority in the assembly.

Sukhu, meanwhile, has remained defiant and has said he will not resign.

Earlier in the day, Himachal Leader of Opposition Jairam Thakur of the BJP met Governor Shiv Pratap Shukla and said that the "the Congress government has lost the moral right to stay in power". He had earlier said the majority of the MLAs were with the BJP.

"We have informed the Governor about what happened in the Assembly recently...We informed him about the behaviour of the Speaker towards the Opposition MLAs. In the Assembly, when we demanded division of vote during the financial bill, it was not allowed and the House was adjourned twice. After that, the way Marshal behaved with our MLAs was not right. MLAs were attacked by the Marshals. MLAs were injured, this has never happened in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly. BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan won the Rajya Sabha elections...Currently, the Congress government has lost the moral right to stay in power," said Thakur, as per ANI.


Thakur further said that Sukhu has already tendered his resignation but perhaps it is being withheld at the moment because of the intervention of the Congress party's central leadership.

"This government has lost all the moral rights to stay in power. As far as I have been informed, CM Sukhu has also presented his resignation inside the House. Maybe the high command has asked him I am not sure," said Thakur, as per ANI.

Separately, Thakur also said the Sukhu government does not have the majority and that's why 15 BJP MLAs have been suspended to pass the Budget with the reduced majority number.


On his part, however, Sukhu has said that he has not resigned. He told the media, "I want to make it clear that I haven't resigned. The Congress government will complete five years. We are fighters and we will prove our majority."

Is Congress Falling To Factionalism In Himachal?

The resignation of Vikramaditya Singh, the son of late Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh, from the Sukhu ministry has led to speculation whether the Congress party's government in the state is being torn apart from factionalism within its ranks.

In 2022, when the Congress party came to power in the state, there were reports of factionalism within the party. A camp led by Pratibha Singh, the wife of Virbhadra and mother of Vikramaditya, was seen as staking claim to the chief ministership. Going against this camp's wishes, Sukhu was appointed as the CM and Mukesh Agnihotri was named as Deputy CM. Vikramaditya was accommodated as a minister in the Sukhu ministry.


The Indian Express has reported that Pratibha has been in touch with Congress MLAs, including those who have cross-voted in BJP's favour, over the purported denial of ministerial berths.

"Since Sukhu became the CM, a factional feud has been on between the camps led by him and Vikramitya’s mother and Congress state unit president Pratibha Singh, who is the wife of former CM Virbhadra Singh. On Tuesday, Pratibha talked about many leaders, including senior leader Rajinder Rana who cross-voted, being unhappy after being overlooked for ministerial posts," reported The Express.

Amid questions about the survival of the Sukhu government, the Congress high command has dispatched senior leaders Bhupinder Singh Hooda and DK Shivakumar to engage with the disgruntled MLAs in the state, according to India Today. The report further said that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is the party's points-person in the Himachal crisis.


"Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is taking charge of the crisis in Himachal Pradesh. In a briefing to Congress President Kharge, she discussed the state's situation. She has been in touch with several MLAs, including Vikramaditya Singh who spoke to her yesterday. Gandhi is actively monitoring the developments and maintaining regular contact with Sukhvinder Sukhu and Rajiv Shukla," reported India Today.