CHANDIGARH: The 17 days old Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana saw eight new faces in the state cabinet that was expanded on Thursday.
Haryana governor Satyadeo Narain Arya administered the oath of office to six cabinet and four ministers of state at a simple ceremony at Raj Bhawan taking the strength to 12. Former Indian Hockey team captain Sandeep Singh who won from Pehowa was inducted as minister of state.
Among the ministers who took the oath, eight are from BJP and one from Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) and one Independent. Two cabinet berths have been kept vacant including one from the JJP quota for future expansion. The cabinet can have a total of 14 members, including the chief minister and the deputy chief minister.
Sixty-five-year-old Khattar took oath as the chief minister for the second time on October 27 along with Dushyant Chautala (31) of Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), as his deputy.
Six-time MLA from Ambala Cantonment Anil Vij who was the health minister in the previous BJP government was the first one to be sworn in. Other legislators who were inducted as cabinet ministers were former speaker Kanwarpal Gujjar (Jagadhri assembly seat), Independent MLA Ranjit Chautala from Rania assembly constituency (brother of former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala), Jai Prakash Dalal from Loharu seat, Mool Chand Sharma from Ballabgarh seat and Dr Banwari Lal from Bawal seat. Lal was the minister of state in the previous government thus he has been promoted to cabinet rank in this government.
Prakash Yadav from Narnaul seat, Kamlesh Dhanda from Kalayat seat, Anoop Dhanak from Uklana seat and Sandeep Singh from Pehowa have become Ministers of State. Besides Anil Vij and Banwari Lal, all the others are new faces in the state council of ministers.
Kamlesh Dhanda BJP MLA from Kalayat assembly seat is the lone woman minister in the Khattar cabinet.
Anoop Dhanak, a Dushyant Chautala loyalist since he left the INLD, has been made minister from the JJP quota. Dhanak who was the sitting MLA of INLD went with Chautala when the latter formed his new pasty JJP.
Barring former hockey player-turned-BJP MLA Sandeep Singh, all the ministers took oath in Hindi. Singh, who donned a saffron turban, took oath in Punjabi.
The portfolios have been divided between BJP and JJP. Sources said that the leaders of both parties have worked on the formulation of a common minimum programme. Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala was allocated 11 departments including excise and taxation, development and panchayats, industries and commerce, food and civil supplies, revenue and disaster management, public works, labour and employment, civil aviation, archaeology and museum, and rehabilitation and consolidation.
Union ministers Narender Singh Tomar and Krishnapal Gujjar, state BJP chief Subash Barala, state BJP in-charge Anil Jaim, speaker Gian Chand Gupta, JJP state chief Nishan Singh, former ministers Ram Bilash Sharma, Capt Abhimanyu and Manish Grover were among the prominent politicians who were present at the oath taking ceremony.