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Himachal CM inducts 3 new ministers, Rajeev Bindal and others left sulking

Shimla: In first ever expansion of the Himachal Pradesh cabinet, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Thursday inducted three new ministers, including a young aspirant Rakesh Pathania from politically sensitive Kangra district. The cabinet expansion was long overdue after three posts fell vacant because of resignation of Anil Sharma, son of former telecom minister Sukh Ram, Krishan Kapoor, elected to Lok Sabha and Vipin Parmar, now Speaker of the state assembly.

But the move also caused a wave of anger and resentment to potential party seniors like Dr Rajeev Bindal, a former state BJP chief who had resigned in the wake of alleged medical purchases scam. Other viz Ramesh Dhawala, Narinder Bragta –both former ministers, Bikram Jaryal and Col Inder Singh, both MLAs have been left sulking.

Deputy Speaker Hans Raj, expecting his induction, has too shown his disappointment.

Three new ministers –Sukh Ram Chaudhary, Rakesh Pathania and Rajinder Garg, who looks more as choice of BJP national president J P Nadda appear to have been handpicked to make a caste and regional balance –each from Shimla, Kangra and Hamirpur Parliamentary constituencies.

Most surprising element in the expansion was choice of Rajinder Garg, a first-time MLA from Gumarwin in Bilaspur –home district of J P Nadda. While introducing Garg, Chief Minister made a specific mention about he being a Sangh Pariwar whole timer in his young age, since he was 16, and worked for the ABVP in Madhya Pradesh.

While Rakesh Pathania's induction was more or less on expected lines to give Kangra–state's biggest district representation, and also a caste considering as he being Rajput, Sukh Ram Chaudhary, a three-time MLA from Paonta Sahib got entry to the cabinet as being OBC. Replying to newsmen's queries, Chief Minister said "all 11 ministers are his choice.Now with new BJP president Suresh Kashyap –a sitting MP, the team will work together mission repeat 2022."

He did not rule out in reshuffle of the portfolios of the some sitting ministers, besides also shedding some departments. To a question about convening of assembly session, Thakur said "it will be possible only in September, particularly after the Lok Sabha decides on holding a session. Rest no other state assembly had taken a call on it due to Covid -19 crisis and its spread."

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