A new 11-member Himachal Pradesh cabinet led by Jairam Thakur was sworn-in on Wednesday in Shimla. The cabinet, including Thakur, were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Acharya Dev Vrat at the historic Ridge Ground in the capital city of Himachal Pradesh.
Others who were sworn-in as ministers, apart from Thakur, are Suresh Bhardwaj, Anil Sharma, Govind Thakur, Mahender singh, Sarveen Chaudhary, Ram Lal Markandaye, Vipin Parmar, Rajeev Saijal, Bikram Thakur, Kishan Kapoor and Virender Kanwar.
The cabinet is complete as all 12 berths have been filled while two MLAs would be accommodated as speaker and deputy speaker. Rajiv Bindal will be the speaker of the legislative assembly. Jai Ram is the first chief minister from the second largest Mandi district and the 14th chief minister and sixth person to adorn the office of the chief minister.
The new ministers include Mohinder Singh, Krishan Kapoor, Suresh Bharadwaj, Anil Sharma, Sarveen Chowdhary, Ram Lal Markanda, Vipin Parmar, Virender Kanwar, Gobind Thakur, Rajiv Saizal and Vikram Singh. Besides, the chief minister, two ministers are from his home district of Mandi, four from the largest Kangra district, one each from Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Una and Lahaul and Spiti districts.
Bilaspur and Hamirpur, home districts of Union Health Minister J P Nadda and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chamba and Sirmaur districts have been left unrepresented.
— ANI (@ANI) December 27, 2017
While Thakur and seven others took oath in Hindi, Suresh Bharadwaj and Govind Thakur took oath in Sanskrit. Along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Thavarchand Gehlot also attended the swearing-in ceremony. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was present at the ceremony too. Chief ministers of BJP-ruled states were also in attendance, along with more than 30,000 party supporters from across the state, mostly dressed up in traditional attires.
— ANI (@ANI) December 27, 2017
Five-time legislator Thakur, who rose through the ranks and is known for his humble, clean and low-profile nature, ahead of the ceremony said his top priorities would be restoring law and order situation, to do away with the VIP culture, to review all decisions of the previous Congress government in past three months and to minimise wasteful expenditure.
Thakur's family members, including his 80-year-old widowed mother who hails from a remote village in Mandi district, attended the ceremony. While Prem Kumar Dhumal was declared the chief ministerial candidate of the BJP, he nevertheless lost the election. The surprise defeat of Dhumal forced the BJP to scout for a new chief ministerial candidate in the state.
Ultimately, Thakur's name was proposed by the two-time former chief minister Dhumal and seconded by Union minister JP Nadda and another two-time chief minister Shanta Kumar.
By inviting chief ministers of all 18 states (19th state would be Gujarat where the ceremony was being held) and other coalition leaders at the Centre, the BJP showcased the ruling NDA's pan-India spread, this article in Firstpost noted. At present, BJP rules 14 states on its own and reigns in five in an alliance which explains the BJP's ability to stitch political and social coalitions and run them successfully.
However, this did not seem to be the case in Himachal Pradesh as only 9 to 10 BJP chief ministers attended the swearing-in ceremony. Vasundhara Raje gave the event a miss due to ill-health.
The BJP wrested power in Himachal from the Congress, winning close to a two-thirds majority with 44 seats in the 68-member assembly. The Congress won 21 seats, independents two and the Communist Party of India-Marxist one.
The BJP had won 20 seats in Kangra and Mandi districts and also won 13 out of 17 seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and two out of three Scheduled Tribe seats.
Some senior party leaders and former ministers including Romesh Dhawala and Narinder Bragata have not been given berth in the cabinet.
There are six Rajputs including the chief minister, Mohinder Singh, Vipin Parmar, Virender Kanwar, Gobind Thakur and Vikram Singh, three Brahmins including Suresh Bharadwaj, Anil Sharma and Ram Lal Markanda, who is both tribal and Brahmin and two OBCs.
Thakur had earlier served as minister from 2009 to 2012. He was state BJP chief from 2006 to 2009.
Mohinder Singh is seven-time MLA and served as cabinet minister twice in 1998 and 2007 in the BJP government headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal while Krishan Kapoor is four-time MLA from Dharamsala and was cabinet minister in the Dhumal government during 1998-2003 and 2007-12.
Sarveen Chowdhary is also a four-time MLA and former minister in the BJP government.
Anil Sharma, who deserted the Congress on the eve of election is four-time MLA from Mandi and served as minister in the Virbhadra Singh cabinet in 1993 and 2012 while Dr Ram Lal Markanda, a three-time MLA was minister in the Dhumal government during 1998-2003.
Suresh Bharadwaj from Shimla is senior party leader and a four-time MLA. He was also Rajya Sabha member and state BJP chief.
Virender Kanwar, four-time MLA from Kutlehar, Vipin Parmar, Gobind Thakur, Rajiv Saizal and Vikram Singh are among the new faces.
The BJP had won 44 out of 68 seats in the state assembly and after the shocking defeat of BJP's chief minister face Prem Kumar Dhumal from Sujanpur, the race was open for the top post and Jai Ram Thakur was elected leader. Thousands of people from Mandi, the home district of chief minister thronged the venue and danced to the tunes of traditional folk music.
Apart from Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and J.P Nadda, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states like Yogi Adityanath, Manohar Lal Khattar, Devendra Fadanvis and Sarbanand Sonowal were present on the occasion.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 27, 2017 13:46:16 IST