Himachal Pradesh’s new Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, who was sworn in earlier today, disagreed with factionalism in the state unit in Congress. “Lobbying happens but there is no factionalism in Congress in Himachal Pradesh…that is the BJP narrative,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Mr Sukhu, who came from humble beginnings but rose through the ranks in Congress, was elected chief minister as Pratibha Singh and Mukesh Agnihotri were the wife and protector of six-term chief minister Virbhadra Singh of Himachal Pradesh. Once the royal family.
The 58-year-old lawmaker has the support of more than half of the state’s congressmen, sources said.
But his election was also expected to send out a message — that dynastic politics and inherited privileges are on the way out in the Congress, dovetailing with the election of Mallikarjun Kharge to the top post of the party.
His choice is also a rejection of the BJP, which has been ridiculed in Congress. On the eve of the election, Union Minister Amit Shah had said Mr Suhu would not get the post because he was not “someone’s son or daughter”.
Mr Suku’s father was a bus driver who used to sell milk and started his political journey as a student leader. Over time, he became part of Rahul Gandhi’s team.
“I came from humble beginnings and it is a proud moment for someone like me to be named chief minister,” he told NDTV today. “It is a blessed moment for Congress staff to be given this opportunity. I thank Congress and the Gandhi family for this,” he added.
Asked about the legacy of Virbhadra Singh, the party’s most prominent face in the state, Mr Sukhu, who counts the six-time chief minister among his political opponents, said: “We will carry on the legacy of Congress. It’s not just Virbhadra Singh’s legacy. The legacy, and the legacy of other leaders like Yashwant Singh and Ramlal Thakur, we should also carry forward. The party is more important than anything.”