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Himachal: BJP fields 6 former Congress MLAs in by-polls

Shimla: In a sign of increasing troubles for the ruling Congress in Himachal Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday fielded six disqualified Congress rebel MLAs in the Assembly by-polls, days after the joined the party.
All six now disqualified Congress MLAs--Rajinder Singh Rana, Sudhir Sharma, Chaitanya Sharma, Ravi Thakur, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, and Davinder Bhutto-- had cross-voted in in the Rajya Sabha election in favour of BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan against Congress' senior leader Abhishek Mani Singhvi.
The BJP has fielded Ravi Thakur from Lahaul-Spiti, Rajinder Rana from Sujanpur, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal from Barsar, Chaitanya Sharma from Gagret and Devinder Kumar Bhutto from Kutlehar.
Apart from these six MLAs, three independents--Hoshyar Singh, Ashish Sharma, and K.L. Thakur--also left the Sukhu camp for the BJP, leading to Singhvi's defeat in the Rajya Sabha elections.
The rebel Congress MLAs had joined the BJP on Saturday. Along with them, three independent MLAs, who resigned from their post on Friday (March 22) in the presence of BJP leaders, too, joined the party, thereby cementing the BJP's position ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly.
Apart from elections in four Lok Sabha constituencies, Himachal Pradesh will witness bypolls in six assembly constituencies, which were previously occupied by the rebel MLAs.
In the 68-member assembly constituency, the ruling Congress was in a comfortable majority with the support of 43 MLAs--40 of its own and three independents--after it won the 2022 assembly polls. The remaining 25 MLAs were from the BJP.
With the six rebel MLAs disqualified, the strength of the house came down from 68 to 62 and the halfway mark is 32. With the loss of 6 MLAs the Congress now has 34 MLAs and the BJP with independents, has 28. The fortunes of the Congress will now rest on its ability to keep the rest of its flock together.
This makes it crucial for the Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu government to perform well in the bypolls.
The BJP also announced the name of the candidates for the by-polls in Gujarat, Karnataka, and West Bengal.

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