By Harihar Swarup
If there is something called a meteoric rise, this is the one. The son of a bus driver has taken oath as the 15th chief minister of Himachal Pradesh.
Not many profiles can touch as many steps of the political ladder as Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu’s does. The 58-year-old leader has the distinction of rising through the ranks since he got elected as a class representative in Class-II (two) at government Degree College, Shimla, in 1981. He never looked back since.
Sukhu was appointed chief of state unit of the NSUI in 1989, helmed the state unit of the Youth Congress (1998-2008) got elected as a councillor twice (1992—2002) before entering Vidhan Sabha as an MLA in 2003, headed state congress committee (2013—2019). And now Chief Minister.
Born on March 27, 1964, at Bhavana village of Nadaun in Hamipur district, the four-time MLA, studied law from Himachal Pradesh University, Shilma. His father, Rasil Singh, was a driver with the state roadways. As a student, Sukhu did menial jobs to supplement his job.
Hardly courting any controversy, he developed a strong support base among his electorate and within the party. He is learnt to be on good terms with Gandhis.
He found himself on the wrong side of six-time chief minister, the late Virbhadra Singh but always stood his ground. His tenure as state Congress chief was marked by an acrimonious relationship with the then chief minister.
“I am committed to the party ideology. It was all issue-based—there were issues on which I supported him (Virbhadra Singh) and there were issues on which I opposed him.
On the personal front, his wife Kamlesh is homemaker. The couple have two daughters who study in Delhi.
Himachal will have also a Deputy Chief Minister for the first time ever in five time legislator Mukesh Agnihotri. He was a journalist before joining politics under Virbhadra Singh’s mentorship.
Agnihotri contested his first election in 2003 from the Santokgarh Assembly seat in Una. He was re-elected from the constituency in 2007. He won the 2012, 2017, 2022 elections from Haroli, which was known as Santokgarh before delimitation.
Calling Agnihotri as his brother, Sukhu said they will work as a team. Noting that the team has 38 other players, he said, all will be given responsibilities.
“We want to secure power not merely to be in power. We wanted to change the system. Give me some time. We need to work hard, struggle to bring a new system and new thinking”, he said.
A four-time MLA from the Nadaun constituency in Himachal Pradesh and head of the congress’s election committee in the state, Sukhu, who is a law graduate, began his career in student politics and went on to rise to the position of the state unit chief.
Mukesh Agnihotri contested his first time election in 2003 from Santokhgarh Assembly seat in Una. He was re-elected from the constituency in 2007. He won the 2012, 2017 and finally, 2022 elections from Haroli. (IPA Service)