Himachal Assembly Speaker disqualifies six Cong rebel MLAs

Shimla: In a major political attempt to save the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh, Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania on Thursday declared that the six rebel legislators cease to be members of the Assembly with immediate effect, saying “the MLAs defied party whip to vote in favour of government on Financial Bill.”

He clarified that all six MLAs, who contested on the Congress symbol, attracted provisions of anti-defection law against themselves.

“I declare that the six people cease to be members of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly with immediate effect,” he told the media here.

The order was pronounced by the Speaker on the petition of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harsh Vardhan Chauhan, who sought the disqualification of six MLAs under the anti-defection law. They also voted against the party to support BJP’s lone candidate for the Rajya Sabha.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu called Congress MLAs for a breakfast meeting here. Four MLAs, including Vikramaditya Singh, have not reached the CM’s residence.

After the cross-voting by nine members, comprising three Independents and six Congress, there is a question mark over the survival of the Sukhvinder Sukhu-led government.

The BJP has won the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Himachal Pradesh after six Congress MLAs cross-voted in the polls.

The six Congress MLAs who faced action are Sudhir Sharma (Dharamsala) and Rajinder Rana (Sujanpur), both ministerial aspirants; Inder Dutt Lakhanpal (Badsar); Ravi Thakur (Lahaul-Spiti); Chaitnaya Sharma (Gagret); and Devender Bhutto (Kutlehar).

In the 68-member Assembly, the Congress had 40 MLAs, while the BJP had 25 and three independent MLAs.

Now after the Speaker disqualified the six rebel Congress MLAs who voted in favour of the BJP, the strength of the House will come down to 62.

The halfway mark will be 31 and the majority will be 32, just two less than Congress’ strength.

IANS

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