Himachal BJP workers welcome Congress rebel, Rajinder Rana, NSUI activists show black flags

Hamirpur/Shimla, 28 March 2024 | Rajinder Rana, a three-time legislator hogged the limelight by defeating former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal in the 2017 assembly polls now the BJP candidate for the Sujanpur assembly seat in Himachal Pradesh’s Hamirpur district, faced black flags from the NSUI activists but he also received a grand welcome from his supporters on visiting his constituency Thursday.

Rana is one of the six disqualified Congress MLAs who, along with three Independent legislators, had voted in favor of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee Harsh Mahajan in the Rajya Sabha polls on February 27.

All the MLAs switched to the BJP on March 23 following which the six rebels including Rana, were given tickets from their respective assembly seats. Rana returned to his constituency after a month.

Referring to the resentment among the BJP leaders after the six rebels were given the tickets, he said small resentments are part of democracy. They will sit and talk with those who are protesting.

He slammed Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and said, “The CM has betrayed and humiliated me and discriminated against the development of Sujanpur.” He reiterated that the Sukhu government is on a ventilator.

The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, raised slogans and displayed black flags at the Anu Chowk in Hamirpur as Rana’s vehicle passed by to reach the Kot Village in Sujanpur to attend a welcome ceremony.

Rana was accompanied by former BJP minister Bikram Thakur and was welcomed by the supporters at Kot Village in Sujanpur where the BJP workers raised slogans in his support.

The former Congress MLA noted that the workers were enthusiastic and claimed that the BJP would win all the assembly seats going to the polls and the Lok Sabha seats of the state.

The six Congress rebels were disqualified for defying a party whip to be present in the House and vote in favor of the government during the cut motions and the budget.

Meanwhile, sensing fissures in the BJP after the Congress rebels were fielded from their respective assembly seats on the BJP ticket, the party formed coordination in Hamirpur district to ensure unity among its ranks ahead of the upcoming elections on Wednesday.

BJP leader Ranjit Singh, who contested the assembly polls in 2022 from Sujanpur, announced that he will contest the byelections as an Independent candidate against the party’s nominee, Rana, a Congress turncoat.

Singh insisted that he will work to support the party’s candidate, Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur, for the Lok Sabha polls in Hamirpur.

In the 2022 assembly polls, Singh lost to Rana, who was a Congress leader then, by a margin of 399 votes.

With the disqualification of the six Congress MLAs, the strength of the ruling party came down from 40 to 34, including the Speaker who can vote only in the case of a tie during a floor test, in the 68-member Assembly. The BJP has 25 members.

The three Independents have resigned and joined the BJP but their resignation is yet to be accepted by the Speaker.

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