Undertaking its first cabinet expansion, the nine-month-old BJP government in Haryana on Thursday inducted Israna MLA Krishan Lal Panwar, Bhiwani MLA Ghanshyam Saraf and Naraingarh MLA Nayab Saini in the council of ministers.
While Panwar, a former INLD MLA who switched sides to join the BJP just before the 2014 polls, was administered the oath of office and secrecy as a full cabinet rank minister, Saraf was inducted as minister of state (independent charge) and Saini as a minister of state.
Following the administration of oath to the trio by governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, there are now 13 ministers, including the chief minister in the council of ministers. One more MLA can still be accommodated as a minister in the council. The portfolio allocation to the new ministers will be done later. Both Panwar and Saraf could get portfolios held at present by the chief minister and finance minister Capt Abhimanyu.
Later, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar administered the oath of office to Badkhal MLA Seema Trikha, Radaur MLA Shyam Singh Rana, Hisar MLA Dr Kamal Gupta and Assandh MLA Bakhshish Singh Virk as chief parliamentary secretaries (CPS).
Caste and regional equation.
Krishan Lal Panwar was picked for a cabinet berth as the party was keen to accommodate a Scheduled Caste MLA, particularly one from the Chamar community, in the cabinet. His being from Panipat, an unrepresented district, also tilted scales in his favour. Till Panwar's induction, there was only one Scheduled Caste minister, Krishan Bedi, a Balmiki, in the council of ministers.
Second-time Bhiwani MLA Ghanshyam Saraf's induction from the Aggarwal quota was largely due to his seniority, the RSS backing and his being from the unrepresented Bhiwani district. Till his induction, Kavita Jain was the only minister from the Aggarwal community.
The surprise pack of Thursday, Naraingarh MLA Nayab Saini comes from a backward class. Saini's induction as a minister of state (MoS) has lot to do with the not-so-cordial relations between Khattar and health minister Anil Vij, who is an MLA from Ambala Cantonment. By giving a go-head to Saini's induction, the saffron party has tried to break the hegemony of Vij in Ambala district who till now was the only minister representing the district in the cabinet.
Among the chief parliamentary secretaries (CPS) sworn in, Badkhal MLA Seema Trikha, a Punjabi, was appointed as she comes from the unrepresented Faridabad district, while Hisar MLA Kamal Gupta, who comes from the Aggarwal community, was appointed to increase Hisar district's representation and probably to balance out Jat leader Capt Abhimanyu, an MLA from Narnaund. Lone Sikh MLA from Assandh, Bakshish Singh Virk and lone Rajput legislator, Shyam Singh Rana (Radaur), were also accommodated as CPS to give representation to the two communities.
North Haryana rules
The BJP, which for the first time in 2014 got a clear mandate in the Haryana assembly largely due to its sweep in the northern (GT Road belt) and southern Haryana (Ahirwal) seems to be generous in rewarding MLAs from the northern part with berths in the council of ministers and in the appointment of chief parliamentary secretaries.
The party now has seven ministers, including Khattar, who come from the GT Road districts. In fact, two of the three ministers inducted on Thursday - Panwar and Saini - come from districts adjoining GT Road ie Panipat and Ambala, respectively. Besides, of the four CPS appointed on Thursday, two -Virk and Rana -come from the northern districts of Karnal and Yamunanagar, respectively.
Krishan Lal Panwar (57), Cabinet Minister
Educational qualification: Matriculate, boiler competency diploma
Constituency: Israna (SC) in Panipat district
Political record: Five time MLA, formerly Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)
Panwar worked as a technical hand at Panipat Thermal Power Plant before making an entry into active politics. A staunch follower of former chief minister, Om Prakash Chautala, Panwar was one of the leading dalit leaders in the INLD. He quit the INLD in 2014 before the assembly elections after he was denied a ticket from Israba despite being a sitting MLA.
Ghanshyam Saraf (51), Minister of State ( Independent charge)
Educational qualification: Graduate
Political record: Second time MLA, draws strength from RSS background
A rather reticent customer Saraf was one of the four BJP MLAs elected in the 2009 assembly polls. He owes his rise in the BJP to his RSS background.
Nayab Saini (45) Minister of State
Educational qualification: Law graduate
Political record: First time MLA, held various positions in BJP, Kisan Morcha and Yuva Morcha
Saini made his electoral debut in 2014 assembly polls. The young leader from Ambala district is regarded as a promising prospect by the saffron party.