Himachal Pradesh saw a symbolic moment in State politics on December 11, 2022 as senior Congress leader Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the 58-year old son of a bus driver, took oath as Chief Minister. His journey to the top post in the State, in spite of the fact that he does not hail from a political family, is nothing short of an implausible feat.
Soon after assuming charge, Mr. Sukhu, who comes from a humble family background in rural Himachal Pradesh, made it clear that his government would work in a transparent manner, providing honest governance. He assured the people that all the guarantees and promises given by the Congress in the run-up to the elections would be implemented.
Known in political circles as a modest and soft-spoken yet assertive leader, Mr. Sukhu was famed for being willing to speak his mind on matters within and outside the party over the forty years of his political journey. On several issues, he was often at loggerheads with the late Virbhadra Singh, a Congress stalwart in Himachal Pradesh and a six-time Chief Minister of the State. An astute politician, Mr. Sukhu is learnt to have a close relationship with Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Rising through the ranks
Mr. Sukhu’s father, the late Rasil Singh was a bus driver. In his early years, Mr. Sukhu, who resided in the Chotta Shimla area of the State capital, ran a milk supply corner to support his family.
A law graduate from Himachal Pradesh University, Mr. Sukhu started his political journey by jumping into student politics at the Himachal Pradesh University in 1984. He joined the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, and later became the NSUI’s State president between 1989 and 1995. He then served as general secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress, becoming its president in 1998 and holding the position for a full decade. Rising through the ranks, Mr. Sukhu became president of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) in 2013. Interestingly — and a feat in itself — he has been president of the NSUI, the Youth Congress, and the HPCC in the State.
His electoral journey also started in the local polls before moving on to State-level elections. Mr. Sukhu was twice elected as the councillor of the Shimla Municipal Corporation from 1992 to 1997 and 1997 to 2002. He first contested the Assembly election in 2003 from the Nadaun constituency in Hamirpur district. He has contested this seat five times and won on four occasions. He was re-elected in December 2007 and in December 2017, and now again in 2022, continuing to take strides in his political run.