CHANDIGARH: Five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur was sworn in Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh in a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister, BJP boss Amit Shah as well as Union ministers and CMs of party-ruled states.
With six of the 12-member cabinet being former ministers and the rest first-timers, the ministry has a blend of experienced and new faces. It has six Rajputs, including the Chief Minister, and three Brahmins.
Among those who were ministers earlier are Mahender Singh, the seven-time MLA from Dharampur; Kishan Kapoor, the MLA from Dharamshala; and four-time MLA from Shahpura in Kangra, Sarveen Chaudhary. Chaudhary is the only woman minister.
Anil Sharma, who was in the Virbhadra Singh government and joined the BJP before the polls, was also sworn in as a minister. He is the son of former Congress leader Sukh Ram. Ram Lal Markanday, a minister in the1998 BJP-Himachal Vikas Congress regime, also took oath of office.
The first-time ministers, most of them young, include Vipin Parmar, the MLA from Sulah in Kangra; Govind Thakur, the MLA from Manali; Suresh Bhardwaj, the MLA from Shimla; Virender Kanwar, the MLA from Kutlehar; Vikram Singh, the MLA from Jaswan Pragpur; and Rajiv Sejal, the Kasauli MLA.While Thakur and most of the MLAs took oath in Hindi, two ministers opted for Sanskrit. Chants of “Jai Shri Ram” by BJP supporters could be heard at Ridge Ground in Shimla where the swearing-in took place. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed confidence that the Himachal team would work tirelessly and serve the people with exceptional diligence.
Mandi district got two berths in the cabinet with Sharma and Singh finding a place. Hamirpur was not represented as the BJP won only two of the five seats in the district, and more importantly, because of the defeat of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal from Sujanpur.
Thakur, who turns 53 on January 6, will be serving as Chief Minister for the first time. Thakur’s family members, including his 80-year-old mother Briku Devi who lives in a remote village in Mandi district, attended the ceremony.
Sadhna, Thakur’s wife and a doctor by profession, said: “This is the victory of the common man.”
End of topi culture
Thakur’s swearing-in seems to have ended Himachal’s topi culture. With former Congress CM Virbhadra Singh sporting a green cap and former BJP CM Prem Kumar Dhumal a maroon one, the colours had begun to be identified with the parties. Thakur doesn’t wear a cap.
Oakover decks up
Oakover, the Himachal CM’s official residence, is being spruced up for Thakur and his family to move in. It would mostly wear a deserted look in the time of former CM Virbhadra Singh, who opted to live at his private residence, Holy Lodge.