Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Risen from ranks, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu to take oath as Himachal CM today

PUNJAB NEWSLINE | December 11, 2022 10:42 AM

SHIMLA: Risen from the ranks with no political dynasty but wide organisational experience, four-time Congress legislator Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, 58, who throughout his political career was not on the same page with party's tallest leader Virbhadra Singh is going to take oath on Sunday as the 15th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.

Four-time legislator Mukesh Agnihotri, 60, will also be taking the oath of office as the Deputy Chief Minister.

The swearing-in ceremony will be held at the historic Ridge here at 1.30 p.m. that will be attended among others by party's national President Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi.

Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar will administer the oath of office and secrecy to them. This will be Sukhu's maiden term as the Chief Minister.

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

Belonging to a humble background, Sukhu is the son of a state-run public transport bus driver.

After being elected unanimously by the party's 40 legislators as the Chief Minister on Saturday evening, Sukhu thanked the Gandhi family for giving him this opportunity.

"I am happy that I am going to be the Chief Minister despite being from an ordinary family. I am thankful to the Congress party and the Gandhi family for giving me this opportunity. My mother never stopped me from being in politics. I have reached here today because of her blessings," he said.

He said his government will bring change. "We will work for the development of Himachal Pradesh," Sukhu, who started his political career at the age of 18, told the media in his first statement after being named the new Chief Minister.

In his initial years of his career, Sukhu was running a milk counter in Shimla. 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 here and was twice elected as the councillor of the Shimla Municipal Corporation.

Responding to Sukhu's appointment, former Union minister Anand Sharma said it was a matter of pride that the son of an ordinary family will be "our CM. Thanks to our leadership, Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi for leading a spirited campaign".

Accepting the party leadership's decision, state unit chief Pratibha Singh, who was the frontrunner for the top job, said: "We accept the decision of the high command."

Pratibha Singh is the wife of six-time chief minister Late Virbhadra Singh, while Sukhu is a four-time MLA from Nandaun, who is a known rival of her husband.

Born on March 27, 1964, Sukhu has never ever been a minister or Chief Parliamentary Secretary and a Chairman of a board or corporation in his political career.

Journalist-turned-politician Mukesh Agnihotri, 60, is the Deputy Chief Minister designate. He retained his stronghold Haroli in Una district, the seat he earlier represented thrice -- 2007, 2012 and 2017.

The Congress on December 8 got an absolute majority in the Assembly elections, winning 40 seats -- six over than the half-way mark of 34 in the 68-member House, while the outgoing BJP was reduced to 25.

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