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Three independent MLAs from Himachal Pradesh join BJP

New Delhi: Three independent MLAs from Himachal Pradesh who voted in favour of a BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections last month joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in the national capital on Saturday.

The three Independents--Ashish Sharma (Hamirpur constituency), Hoshiyar Singh (Dehra) and KL Thakur (Nalagarh)--joined the BJP in the presence of Himachal Pradesh BJP President Rajiv Bindal and Union Minister Anurag Thakur.

On Saturday, six former Himachal Pradesh Congress MLAs who were disqualified as Congress legislators joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in the national capital.

Four-time MLA Sudhir Sharma, three-time MLA Ravi Thakur, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, first-time MLA Devendra Bhutto, Rajendra Rana, and first-time MLA Chaitanya Sharma, joined the BJP in the presence of Himachal Pradesh BJP President Rajiv Bindal, former Himachal CM Jairam Thakur and Union Minister Anurag Thakur.

After joining BJP, rebel Himachal MLA Davinder Kumar Bhutto said that they had left Congress and joined the BJP so that we could aid in the development of our state under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi.

"We have left Congress and joined the BJP so that we could aid in the development of our state under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. We do not want any post, we have joined as party workers... Congress ignores its party workers and elected members. The Himachal government will definitely collapse soon," he added.

Himachal Pradesh MLA Ravi Thakur said that 90 per cent of the total budget of Himachal Pradesh comes from the centre.

"90% of the total budget of Himachal Pradesh comes from the centre. This is why I voted for Harsh Mahajan, keeping my constituency of Lahaul-Spiti in mind... It was unfortunate that the speaker of the assembly suspended us without any reason... When we came to Delhi to fight our case in the SC, Harsh Mahajan provided us with a lawyer but Abhishek Manu Singhvi came to fight the case with 21 lawyers," MLA Ravi Thakur said.

Soon after joining BJP, rebel Himachal MLA Inder Dutt Lakhanpa said that the functionality of the INC has been broken.

"Neither is there any influence of the High Command nor is there any respect left for the party workers... They nominated that person for the Rajya Sabha from Himachal, who is known to have fought against the rights of our state in the SC," he added.

Himachal MLA Chaitanya Sharma said that they had exercised their right and voted for a resident of Himachal Pradesh, Harsh Mahajan.

"What went behind all this needs to be discussed in great detail in the coming days. Talking about Rajya Sabha elections, within the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution, every citizen is eligible to vote as per their conscience. We have just exercised our right and voted for a resident of Himachal Pradesh Harsh Mahajan... If the thoughts and ideas of a person are suppressed, and the person is sidelined, it is not just a loss of the person's self-respect but it is also a loss of the people who've elected the person," he added.

The Congress government led by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was last month plunged into a crisis after the BJP won the Rajya Sabha poll for the state's lone seat due to the support of these nine MLAs.

After the 2022 Assembly elections, the Congress had 40 MLAs, while the BJP had 25 in the 68-member state assembly. The remaining three seats are held by independents.

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.

Himachal Pradesh has four Lok Sabha seats -- Hamirpur, Mandi, Shimla, and Kangra. The BJP had won all four seats in 2019.

The elections to the four Lok Sabha seats of Himachal Pradesh and bypolls to the six assembly constituencies that fell vacant with the disqualification of six rebel Congress MLAs will be held on June 1.

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