Dhumal inducts nine ministers in HP cabinet

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Shimla, Jan 9 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today inducted nine ministers in his cabinet, days after the party secured a majority in the 68-member assembly.

Governor V S Kokje administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers, all of cabinet rank, at a function this morning at Raj Bhawan here.

The team included a lone female minister in Ms Sarveen Chaudhary from Kangra district, who is a fresh face. Apart from her, Rajiv Bindal from Solan, will also be sworn-in for the first time.

Others who took oath were Kishen Kapoor, Ravinder S Ravi, Ramesh Dhawala from Kangra district, Ishwar Dass Dhiman from Hamirpur district, J P Nadda from Bilaspur district, Narinder Bragta from Shimla district and Gulab Singh from Mandi district.

The cabinet would be expanded later to fill in the two vacancies.

The BJP had secured a simple majority in the recently concluded assembly elections, winning 41 seats, defeating its traditional rival Congress.

Mr Dhumal was the only one to take oath at a function organised by the party on December 30.

The portfolios of the ministers would be announced by this evening. The first meeting of the Cabinet convened immediately after the Cabinet expansion.

Later, talking to mediapersons here, the Chief Minister ruled out the possibility of inducting chief parliamenty secretary (CPS) and parliamentary secretary (PS) in the state.

Replying to a question on four ministers being inducted from Kangra district and only one from Mandi district, he said Mr Jai Ram Thakur, party's president, was from Mandi district and was already holding an important position.

Mr Dhumal denied pressure from any quarter within the party to induct ministers saying, since it was the prerogative of the Chief Minister there was no question of any ''outside'' pressure.

''However, there was pressure on me to give due representation to all sections of the society in the Cabinet,'' he explained.

Former union minister Shanta Kumar, party state incharge Satpal Jain and co-incharge O P Dhankad, party state president Jai Ram Thakur, all BJP legislators, senior administrative and police officers were prominent among others present on the occasion.


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