Why did AICC pick Karnataka DCM DK Shivakumar to mediate crisis in Himachal Pradesh Congress unit?

Six Congress legislators cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha polls from Himachal Pradesh to help BJP candidate Harsha Mahajan win the election.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 28, 2024 | 7:27 PMUpdatedFeb 28, 2024 | 7:27 PM

Karnataka Himachal Pradesh Congress Political Crisis DK Shivakumar troubleshooter

All India Congress Committee (AICC) named Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar in the team sent to Himachal Pradesh to tackle the ongoing political crisis in the grand old party following the Rajya Sabha elections.

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu-led-Congress government in Himachal Pradesh is facing a political crisis as the party, despite having enough numbers in the state Assembly, lost the lone Rajya Sabha seat to the BJP.

According to reports, six Congress legislators cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha polls to help BJP candidate Harsha Mahajan win the election. The MLAs that voted for the BJP are said to be unhappy with the functioning of Chief Minister Shukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

In the meantime, state Minister Vikramaditya Singh — son of late chief minister Virbhadra Singh — resigned from his Cabinet post. He alleged that legislators’ voices were stifled in the state government.

Following the crisis, AICC named Haryana’s Opposition leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Shivakumar, also the state PCC chief, as the AICC observers and sent them to Himachal Pradesh to tackle the ongoing dissent within the cadre.

On the directives of the Congress high command, Shivakumar left for Himachal Pradesh on Thursday, 28 February.

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Shivakumar exudes confidence

While leaving for Himachal Pradesh, Shivakumar — who is popularly known as a troubleshooter in Congress — hit out at the BJP for alleged horse-trading and said: “This type of horse trading – someday it might boomerang.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also asked the observers to engage with the six MLAs, who are learnt to be “disappointed” with the working style of Sukhu and are seeking his replacement

The six MLAs had left Shimla for Haryana on Tuesday after casting their votes in the Rajya Sabha polls. They are learnt to be in touch with the BJP, amid signs of a crisis engulfing the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh.

The appointment of observers came amid reports that the BJP plans to meet Governor Shiv Pratap Shukla early Wednesday before the Assembly meets.

Shivakumar told reporters in Bengaluru on Wednesday: “The Congress party has issued a direction that I should be there. I don’t know why the BJP is in such a hurry, after all, there are only two to three states. Any government should have strong Opposition.”

“It is not right and against the democratic values. If such a type of horse trading someday it might boomerang. A very bad precedent going in this country.”

“I am confident that all our legislators will remain loyal to the party. I am not going alone — a team is going there,” Shivakumar exuded confidence.

On their arrival, Shivakumar and Hooda held a meeting with the Congress’ Himachal unit leaders at Shimla.

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Why did AICC choose Shivakumar over other leaders?

AICC chief office in-charge and Rajya Sabha member Syed Naseer Hussain asserted that the high command, considering the track record of Shivakumar’s political mediation, has opted to send him to Himachal Pradesh.

Hussain told South First: “DK Shivakumar has served in various capacities in the party. The high command assigns different roles at the organisation and its affairs to the leaders.”

“He has also been given a similar assignment and sent to Himachal Pradesh. It is not the first time, he had been earlier to Bihar, Rajasthan and Telangana as well.”

“He is not just the state leader but also a national leader. He gets national exposure. Considering his experience, he has been sent as an observer to Himachal Pradesh,” said Rajya Sabha member.

On Shivakumar’s assigned role, Hussain said: “He will take stock of the situation then submit a detailed report to the party high command and also discuss with central leadership and state leadership about the ongoing issues.”

“Thereafter, the decision will be made. I am confident that he will sort out all the issues at Himachal Pradesh,” he added.

This isn’t the first time that Congress has depended on DK Shivakumar to emerge as its ‘troubleshooter’. Shivakumar is the money and muscle man of Congress in Karnataka. The party’s dependence on him has extended to other states like Telangana Andhra Pradesh and now Himachal Pradesh.

Whether it was to shield Gujarat MLAs from the BJP in 2017 or camping outside a hotel in Mumbai where rebel legislators of the JDS-Congress coalition government had huddled, ready to jump ship to the BJP in 2019 or help the party run a successful campaign in Telangana assembly elections, Shivakumar has been Congress’ ‘crisis-manager’.

(With PTI Inputs)