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Congress loses Rajya Sabha polls from Himachal, CM Sukhu says six party MLAs "sold their honesty"

Shimla (Himachal Pradesh): In a big setback for the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh, party's nominee for Rajya Sabha polls, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, lost the poll as "nine MLAs including six from the party cross-voted".

With both Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Harsh Mahajan and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi getting 34 votes each, the winner was decided through a draw of lots.

Singhvi addressed a press conference later and conceded defeat while noting that the MLAs who had cross-voted had taught him "a lot about human nature, its fickleness".

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who was present at the press conference, accused the MLAs who had cross-voted of having "sold their honesty". Answering queries, he expressed confidence of the party overcoming any challenge to its majority in the assembly.

Congratulating his rival candidate Harsh Mahajan for the victory in Rajya Sabha polls, Singhvi took a dig at BJP for fielding a candidate for Rajya Sabha polls when the party did not have a majority in the assembly. BJP has 25 members in the state assembly.

"First of all, I extend heartiest congratulations to Harsh Mahajan (BJP candidate), he has won. He deserves my congratulations. I would like to tell his party introspect and think. When a 25-member party fields a candidate against a 43-member party, there is just one message we will shamelessly do that which is not permitted by the law," Singhvi said.

He said those who had cross-voted were with them for the dinner yesterday and some of them for the breakfast in the morning.

"I would also like to thank the nine persons (MLAs) because they have taught me a lot about human nature, its fickleness or its resoluteness.

They supped with us...So, I think we are bad judges of human character, they are obviously better judges of human character," he said.

Sukhu said of the nine who had cross-voted, three were Independent MLAs.

"When someone has sold out their honesty...Nine cross-votings took place, three of them were Independent MLAs but six others sold their honesty...and voted against him (Abhishek Singhvi)," he said.

Asked about speculations of the BJP bringing a No Confidence Motion against him, Sukhu said majority will be decided on the floor of the assembly.

"Who have gone (cross-voted) are being asked by their families why they did this. So, if the families are asking them, then maybe a few of them would think about 'ghar wapasi'," he said.

He said other Congress MLAs had "also been contacted" but they stayed firm.

Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jai Ram Thakur said that the Congress has lost the Rajya Sabha election and congratulated the party's candidate, Harsh Mahajan for winning the polls.

"Despite having such a huge majority, Congress lost the Rajya Sabha seat...I congratulate Harsh Mahajan once again," Himachal Pradesh LoP and former Himachal chief minister Jai Ram Thakur told reporters.

Sixty-seven of the total 68 legislators exercised their votes in the Rajya Sabha election in Shimla. 

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