Newly-elected Himachal Pradesh Congress Legislature Party leader Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu being greeted during the Congress Legislature Party meeting, as party State chief Pratibha Virbhadra Singh and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel look on, in Shimla on Saturday. Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu is to take oath as the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on December 11 | Photo: ANI
Shimla (Himachal Pradesh): Sukvinder Sukhu, who will take oath as the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, is a grassroots politician who has risen from the ranks and has wide organisational experience in the hill state.
A four-time MLA, Sukhu, 58, is a former chief of Congress in the state and has been part of NSUI and Youth Congress.
He was the party's state unit president from 2013 to 2019 and spoke his mind even if it was not to the liking of the party's tall leader Virbhadra Singh, a six-time Chief Minister.
Sukhu has been in favour of promoting and grooming younger Congress leaders in Himachal Pradesh.
Affable and approachable, Sukhu has a wide network in the hill state due to his long years in the organisation.
With Congress chief ministers over the past over four decades coming from Rampur Bushahr, Congress central leadership was apparently keen to expand its choice. Pratibha Singh, wife of Virbhadra Singh, was also a strong contender for the CM post but the high command went for a leader who has been elected four times from Nadaun, a constituency in Hamirpur district.
Sukhu will be the first Congress leader from "lower Himachal" to come to the top post.
That Hamirpur is represented in parliament by Union Minister Anurag Thakur might also have weighed on the Congress high command as they decided to give the mantle to Sukhu.
The other contender for the top job Mukesh Agnihotri hails from the Una district of the state and will now be Deputy Chief Minister.
A loyalist of Gandhi family, Sukhu belongs to a middle-class family. He was active in politics from his student days and fought elections as an NSUI candidate. He was president of NSUI and Indian Youth Congress in the state. He fought and won elections for Shimla Municipal Corporation. Sukhu won the assembly election for the first time in 2003 from Nadaun.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the party had chosen leader who has risen from the ranks.
"A matter of pride that the son of an ordinary family will be our CM, thanks to our leadership, Smt Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge ji, @RahulGandhi and @PriyankaGandhi for leading a spirited campaign. My good wishes and support to my new CM Sukhu. Grateful that the party leadership has taken a democratic decision and chosen one who has risen from the ranks," Sharma said in tweets.
"Congratulations to Sukhvinder Sukhu on becoming the next Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. Richly deserved recognition of his life- long commitment to the Congress party and acknowledged contribution," he added.
Sukhu was chairman of the Congress Campaign Committee for the assembly elections in which the party focused on local issues and made lucrative promises including old pension scheme.
He will be the second chief minister from Hamirpur district after BJP's Prem Kumar Dhumal.