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Himachal

Posted at: Jan 11, 2019, 8:03 AM; last updated: Jan 11, 2019, 8:04 AM (IST)

Kuldeep Rathore replaces Sukhu as Cong chief

First organisation man and non-MLA to head the party I Gets backing of all warring factions
Kuldeep Rathore replaces Sukhu as Cong chief
Kuldeep Singh Rathore, HP Cong chief

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10

Fiftyseven-year-old Kuldeep Singh Rathore has became the first non-MLA to become Himachal Congress president replacing Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.

The appointment of Rathore, an organisation man, as Himachal Congress chief was cleared today by Congress president Rahul Gandhi after all factions of the state Congress backed him.

Rathore was supported by former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Congress Legislature Party leader Mukesh Agnihotri and senior party leaders Vidya Stokes, Anand Sharma, Asha Kumari, Dhani Ram Shandil and Viplov Thakur.

Top consideration while replacing Sukhu was consensus. Speaking to The Tribune today, Rathore said, “Uniting the party organisation and bringing senior leaders and grassroots workers together is my top priority. Also, we have to get into election mode straight away as there is very little time left for the next Lok Sabha elections.”

Rathore has never contested elections and is the first non-MLA to head the state Congress. He was also chosen to balance a skewed regional representation in the Himachal Congress leadership. Until now the CLP leader Agnihotri and state chief Sukhu were both from lower Himachal (Hamirpur and Kangra parliamentary segments).

Rathore belongs to upper Himachal and hails from Shimla Lok Sabha segment.

Rathore’s area of belonging has been Theog from where Congress veteran Vidya Stokes has contested all elections except the last one.

“There was a realisation in the Congress that I couldn’t fight elections in deference to Vidya Stokes who was our Theog leader. That shouldn’t be held against me,” said Rathore who entered politics from the 1979 students movement in Himachal when he led a 40-day agitation against the Janata Party government as president of the Students Action Committee.

Rathore then remained Himachal NSUI president from 1981 to 1987. He then served as Himachal Congress secretary and then general secretary in charge of organisation besides being the party’s chief spokesperson.

He has been a three-term AICC member. By profession Rathore is a lawyer and was the senior standing counsel of the Government of India for 15 years besides being senior advocate of the armed forces.

Born on August 29, 1960 Kuldeep Rathore belongs to village Chebri in Kumarsain area of Theog sub division of Shimla district. He is a practicing lawyer in the High Court. Rathore has been a loyalist of former Union minister and Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma. At present, he is serving as Special Counsel for the Railways.

The appointment of Rathore is expected to end a prolonged cold war between Virbhadra Singh and Sukhu, and galvanise all party factions ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

The journey so far

  • Rathore entered politics from the 1979 students movement in the state. As president of the Students Action Committee he led a 40-day agitation against the Janata Party government

  • Rathore was Himachal NSUI president from 1981 to 1987 

  • He then served as Himachal Congress secretary and then general secretary in charge of organisation besides being the party's chief spokesperson

  • Rathore has been a three-term AICC member.  By profession Rathore is a lawyer and was the senior standing counsel of the Government of India for 15 years besides being senior advocate of the armed forces

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