Himachal Pradesh cabinet expansion: The Himachal Pradesh cabinet headed by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was expanded on Sunday (January 8) with the induction of seven ministers, taking the total strength to nine.
Former chief minister Virbhadhra Singh's son Vikramaditya Singh and three-time Kasumpti MLA Anirudh Singh take the oath in the newly formed Himachal Pradesh Cabinet.
LIST OF 7 MINISTERS:
The newly inducted ministers include-
- Eldest MLA Dhani Ram Shandil from Solan
- Chander Kumar from Jawali in Kangra district
- Harshwardhan Chauhan from Shillai in Sirmaur district
- Jagat Singh Negi from tribal Kinnaur district
- Rohit Thakur from Jubbal-Kotkhai district
- Anirudh Singh from Kasumpti
- Vikramaditya Singh from Shimla (Rural)
Besides the post of deputy speaker, three berths are still vacant as maximum number of ministers, including the chief minister, cannot exceed 12. Chief Minister Sukhu and Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri were sworn in on December 11
Vikramaditya was elected from the Shimla Rural constituency, while Sandil (82) defeated his son-in-law from the Solan assembly seat. Besides, five-time MLA Harshwardhan Singh Chauhan, who won from his Shillai constituency, will be sworn in, top party sources said on Saturday. Another five-term MLAs Chander Kumar, Jagat Singh Negi and Rohit Thakur are also taking oath as ministers on Sunday, they added.
The swearing-in ceremony of the new ministers started at the Raj Bhavan in Shimla on January 8 at 10:00 am.
Only Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and his deputy Mukesh Agnihotri had taken oath on December 11. The results of assembly elections were declared on December 8. The sources said more ministers may be included in the cabinet later.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhu earlier in the day said he has handed over the list of probables for induction in his ministry to the Congress high command for approval. The Cabinet expansion is possible on Sunday, he told reporters after returning from Delhi where he held deliberations with top party leaders on the issue.
There are 10 vacancies in the cabinet as the total number of ministers, including the chief minister and deputy chief minister, in Himachal Pradesh cannot exceed 12. Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar is scheduled to leave for Goa after administering the oath and would return on January 12. The Congress is facing a daunting task due to the aspirations of various regions, castes and factions for representation. It also has to strike a balance while inducting old and new faces.
Posts hold by CM Sukhu:
So far, Chief Minister Sukhu has kept with himself Finance, General Administration, Home, Planning, Personnel and all other departments not allotted to any minister, while Deputy chief Minister Agnihotri holds Jal Shakti Vibhag, Transport and Language, Arts and Culture departments.
Three out of 12 districts have been given representation- Sukhu from Hamirpur, Agnihotri from Una and five times MLA from Bhatiyyat Kuldeep Pathania, who is from Chamba, as Assembly Speaker, a party source noted. One minister is expected from the Tribal areas of Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur. Kangra and Shimla with 10 and seven Congress MLAs, respectively, are expected to be given a share in the cabinet.
In the November 12 Assembly elections manifesto, Congress had promised to implement the Old Pension Scheme, if voted to power. The CM arrived in Shimla from Delhi, on Saturday evening, after meeting the party's high command.
"The meetings were personal. The Cabinet expansion is also my prerogative and I handed over the list of ten MLAs to the high command. As soon as the approval comes through, we will roll the ball to expand the Cabinet," the CM said, speaking to reporters.
Sukhu had further informed that he would visit Mumbai on Sunday. "I am going to Mumbai tomorrow and have another scheduled event in Pune. We hope to get the high command's nod for the Cabinet expansion soon. As soon as I receive the approved list of candidates, I will effect the Cabinet expansion. We are in the government to change the system, not for power," Sukhu said.
Himachal election results:
The Congress has won 40 out of 68 assembly seats including four each in Una, Solan, and Hamirpur, three in Sirmaur, two each in Chamba and Kullu, and one each in Mandi, Bilaspur, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts. Sukhu had maintained that the cabinet would be expanded in consultation with the high command and it would be a mix of professionals, youth and representatives of various sections.
Former ministers and a number of second and third-time MLAs are among those aspiring for ministerial berths. The party has to also reconcile the claims of the two factions led by Suhkhu and state Congress chief Pratibha Singh.
(With agencies inputs)