Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, the former state chief of Congress in Himachal Pradesh, took the oath as the 15th Chief Minister of the state of Himachal Pradesh. Governor Rajendra Arelkar administered the oath to him.
The ceremony unfolded in the Ridge Maidan of Shimla on December 11, 2022 (Thursday). The attendees included senior All India Congress Committee (AICC) leaders such as Mallikarjun Kharge (President), Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (General Secretary) and Rahul Gandhi (former President).
Mukesh Agnihotri assumed office as the Deputy Chief Minister, but the rest of the ministry remains to be decided.
Who is Sukhwinder Sukhu?
Born in Nadaun tehsil of Hamirpur district in the lower Himachal Pradesh, Sukhu (58) is the son of a truck driver, Rashil Sing and a homemaker, Sansar Dei. Coming from a humble background, he is a graduate in law from Himachal Pradesh University. Sukhu began his political career in the student wing of the Congress party, National Students’ Union of India. He remained the president of the state Youth Congress from 1998 through 2008. He became the Chief Whip of the Congress Legislature Party in 2007.
Factors behind the electoral win
Himachal Pradesh historically has a very strong trend of anti-incumbency in legislative elections. The parties taking the top seat to form the ruling government have alternated in every election since 1977. In 1977, the erstwhile Janata Party first defeated Congress which had been ruling the state since 1952. Ever since, no party has been able to reverse the anti-incumbency trend and BJP proved to be no exception.
Further, the policy decisions of the BJP-led governments in the centre and the state played a vital role in the party’s defeat in the state. Economic inflation was already wreaking havoc. The new pension scheme introduced by the BJP government hurt the interests of the large force of government employees in the state.
With a large number of army jawans coming from the state, the Agnipath scheme also brought down BJP chances. The scheme was widely protested in the state as it would refuse the benefits of long-term employment, pensions, etc to the new recruits.
As a result, BJP lost the elections with 25 seats even as Congress won 40 electoral seats. Seven state ministers under the BJP government also lost their seats. Overall, the party fared badly in the state. The election also marks an important win for Congress. Himachal Pradesh is the third state it rules, in addition to Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Future for Himachal Pradesh
The Chief Minister has promised a transparent government. “We have given 10 guarantees and we will implement them. We will give a transparent and honest government. We will implement the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) in the first cabinet meeting,” the newly sworn-in leader promised. He added, “We wanted to secure power not merely to be in power. We want to change the system. Give me some time. We need to work hard, struggle to bring in a new system and new thinking.”