Himachal Pradesh Governor Rajendra Arlekar administering the oaths of office and secrecy to Congress leader Sukhvinder Singh  Sukhu as the 15th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, in Shimla on Sunday, December 11, 2022.
Himachal Pradesh Governor Rajendra Arlekar administering the oaths of office and secrecy to Congress leader Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu as the 15th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, in Shimla on Sunday, December 11, 2022.IANS

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu takes oath as 15th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh

Shimla, December 11, 2022

Four-time Congress legislator Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was sworn in as the 15th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh at a largely-attended ceremony here today.

Mukesh Agnihotri, who will be Deputy Chief Minister, was also sworn in at the ceremony that was held at the historic Ridge here.

Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar administered the oaths of office and secrecy to Sukhu and Agnihotri.

Other members of the Council of Ministers will be inducted later.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended among others by Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, former Union Ministers Anand Sharma and Pawan Bansal, Congress in-charge for Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda.

IANS adds:

Belonging to a humble background, Sukhu is the son of a driver in the state-run public transport corporation.

The 58-year-old leader has risen from the ranks in the party hierarchy, and has wide organisational experience. Throughout his political career, he was not on the same page with the party's tallest leader, the late Virbhadra Singh, who served six-terms as Chief Minister.

As Sukhu introduced his elderly mother to Rahul Gandhi at the podium ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, the latter, as a goodwill gesture, asked her to have a seat near him.

Gandhi, who was donning a half sleeved T-shirt, also greeted state party chief and Member of Parliament Pratibha Singh at the podium with folded hands and warmth.

After being elected unanimously by the party's 40 legislators as the leader of the Congress Legislative Party on Saturday evening, Sukhu thanked the Gandhi family for giving him the responsibility.

"I am happy that I am going to be the Chief Minister despite being from an ordinary family. I am thankful to the Congress party and the Gandhi family for giving me this opportunity. My mother never stopped me from being in politics. I have reached here today because of her blessings," he said, adding that his government would bring change.

"We will work for the development of Himachal Pradesh," Sukhu, who started his political career at the age of 18, told the media in his first statement after being named the new Chief Minister.

Anand Sharma said it was a matter of pride that the son of an ordinary family was going to be the Chief Minister.

"Thanks to our leadership, Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi for leading a spirited campaign," he said.

Accepting the party leadership's decision, state unit chief Pratibha Singh, wife of late Virbhadra Singh and the frontrunner for the top job, said: "We accept the decision of the high command."

Born on March 27, 1964, Sukhu began his career in student politics and rose to the position of state Congress chief from 2013 to 2019.

He has never ever been a minister or Chief Parliamentary Secretary and or the chairman of a board or corporation.

In the initial years of his career, Sukhu ran a milk counter in Shimla. He was the general secretary of the state unit of the Congress-affiliated National Students' Union of India (NSUI) and later became the president of the student body.

Hailing from Nadaun in Hamirpur district, he did his MA and LL. B. from Himachal Pradesh University here and was twice elected as a councillor in the Shimla Municipal Corporation.

From 1998-2008, Sukhu served as the president of the state Youth Congress.

In the just concluded assembly elections, he headed the election campaign committee.

Journalist-turned-politician Agnihotri, 60, retained his stronghold Haroli in Una district, the seat he earlier represented thrice -- 2007, 2012 and 2017.

Polling in the Assembly elections was held on November 12 and votes were counted on December 8. The Congress got an absolute majority, winning 40 seats -- six more than the half-way mark of 34 in the 68-member House. The BJP, which was in power for the last five years, was reduced to 25.

NNN

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