The five-time Bhartiya Janata Party MLA Jairam Thakur was on Wednesday sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.
Governor Acharya Dev Vrat administered the oath of office to the Chief Minister and 11 other Ministers in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and a large number of senior party leaders and Union Cabinet Ministers including L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari. Chief Ministers of many BJP-ruled States were also present.
A large number of people had started gathering since morning from Mandi, the home district of Mr. Thakur on the historic Ridge ground. Supporters of the new Ministers had also thronged the venue in large numbers.
Senior MLA and a former two-time Minister Mahendra Singh Thakur, from Dharampur in Mandi was the second one after the Chief Minister to take the oath. He was followed by Krishan Kapoor from Dharamsala in Kangra whose name was included at the last minute after the reported intervention of former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. He had also been given the party ticket at the eleventh hour but he comfortably defeated Sudhir Sharma of the Congress.
Shimla MLA and former party president Suresh Bhardwaj was the next to take oath and the only Minister to be sworn in from Shimla district, which is the third largest district after Kangra and Mandi but is a stronghold of the Congress. The BJP has won just three seats from here out of eight, whereas it won nine out of 10 in Mandi and 11 out of 15 in Kangra.
Mr. Sukhram’s son Anil Sharma who joined the BJP on the eve of elections was the next to take oath from Mandi. The father-son duo after being publicly humiliated by Congress Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had a large role in wiping out the party from the district. It got zero out of 10 seats in the district.
Other leaders from Kangra Sarween Chowdhary from Shahpur, the only woman face, Vipin Parmar from Sulah and Bikram Singh from Jaswan also took oath as ministers in the Jairam Cabinet. Ram Lal Markandey from Lahaul-Spiti will be the tribal Minister; young faces Virender Kanwar from Kutlehar in Una district, Gobind Thakur from Manali in Kullu district and Rajeev Sejal from Kasauli in Solan district were also sworn in as first-time Ministers.
Dr. Rajeev Bindal is to be made Speaker.
Pension age lowered
Presiding over his first Cabinet meeting in the evening, Chief Minister Thakur announced that the age to get the social security pension stands decreased from 80 to 70 now. This would benefit a large number of people in the State and no criteria of income would apply to them. The average life expectancy in Himachal is among the highest.
The Cabinet put on hold all recruitment processes outside the purview of the Public Service Commission and decided to review all important decisions taken by the previous government in the past six months. The nominations of all chairmen and vice-chairmen of government boards and corporations were cancelled with immediate effect, along with extensions, re-employments in government departments.
1985 batch IAS officer Ms. Manisha Nanda has been appointed as the new Principal Secretary of the Chief Minister.
The following took oath as Ministers :
Mahendra Singh from the Dharampur constituency in Mandi district
Suresh Bhardwaj from Shimla district
Kishan Kapoor from the Dharamshala constituency in Kangra district
Anil Sharma from Mandi district
Sarveen Chowdhury from Shahpur in Kangra district
Ram Lal Markanda from Lahaul and Spiti
Vipin Singh Parmar from the Sulah constituency in Kangra district
Virendra Kanwar from Kutlehr constituency in Una district
Bikram Singh from Jaswaan Pragpur in Kangra district
Gobind Singh from Manali in Kullu district
Rajeev Saijal from Kasauli in Solan district