Congress’s Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on December 11 took oath as the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, days after the Congress party edged the BJP out of power in the recently held Assembly election.
Mukesh Agnihotri, the leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, took oath as Deputy Chief Minister.
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Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Sukhu and Mr. Agnihotri at the swearing-in ceremony held at the Ridge in Shimla.
Congress leaders including former party president Rahul Gandhi, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, senior party leader and MP K.C. Venugopal and national president Mallikarjun Kharge and others were present on the occasion.
After hectic deliberations over the names of several contenders of Chief Minister post, the party ‘high command’ on Saturday announced Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu’s name for the Chief Minister post, a former State president, and the MLA from Nadaun. The party also announced that Mukesh Agnihotri will be Deputy Chief Minster.
Mr. Sukhu edged the other contenders for Chief Minister post including Pratibha Singh, the widow of the late Virbhadra Singh, a six-time Chief Minister, and the outgoing CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri as a majority of MLAs extended support for Mr. Sukhu. To pacify the rival camps, a formula was devised in which Mr. Sukhu was declared the Chief Minister, while Mukesh Agnihotri was accommodated as deputy chief minister.
On December 8, the Congress made a comeback in Himachal Pradesh, by winning 40 seats in the high-stakes electoral contest for the 68-member Legislative Assembly. The BJP could win only 25 seats while Independent candidates won three seats.
Mr. Sukhu will be the first Congress leader from Lower Himachal - comprising areas merged in Himachal in 1966 such as Nalagarh, Una, Hamirpur, Kangra and lower hills of Kullu - to occupy the top post. He will be the second chief minister from Hamirpur district, after BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal.