The portfolio allocation to the members of Haryana’s new council of ministers has BJP national president Amit Shah’s signature all over it with first-time MLA and Shah’s close aide Captain Abhimanyu being given key portfolios over party state president Ram Bilas Sharma.
Sharma who is number two in the council of ministers seems to have been outshone by a much junior Capt Abhimanyu in terms of portfolio allocation.
With the charge of 13 departments, including key portfolios such as finance, excise and taxation, industries and commerce, labour and employment, forests, environment, revenue, consolidation, industrial training, law and legislative, he is certainly a surprise in the cabinet.
The way in which he has been handed over the key charges and given the number 3 position in the order of precedence clearly indicates that he has Shah’s blessings. Capt Abhimanyu, who is also the BJP national spokesperson, shares a bond with Shah having worked in tandem with the latter in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Nevertheless, the BJP leadership seems to have kept in mind his mining business in Chhattisgarh and wisely avoided giving him mines and geology.
Meanwhile, the party high command also seems to have cut senior BJP leader Ram Bilas Sharma to size by allocating him responsibility of nine departments of education, transport, technical education, food and supplies, hospitality, tourism, civil aviation, parliamentary affairs, archaeology and museums. As expected, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has retained 17 important departments, including home, power, town and country planning, mines and geology, urban local bodies, public relations, personnel, general administration, with himself.
The CM, who met Shah on Monday night to finalise the council following murmurs of protest among top ministers, returned to Chandigarh Tuesday afternoon with the list.
The CM’s advice was sent to governor Kaptan Singh Solanki late Tuesday evening, following which he allocated responsibilities to the council members.
Vij, Narbir get raw deal
Five-time MLA Anil Vij and two-time minister Rao Narbir Singh seem to have gotten a raw deal in the allocation with the former getting only one significant department — health and medical education— while the latter has to be contented with public works department (B&R) and public health engineering.
Vij also has other rather inconsequential departments such as Ayush, ESI, election, sports and youth affairs. In contrast, first-time MLA Om Prakash Dhankar, who enjoys proximity to Shah by virtue of being the national coordinator for Prime Minister’s dream project—the Statue of Unity, has been given three important portfolios (agriculture development and panchayats; irrigation; and animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries). The lone woman minister in the cabinet, Kavita Jain, too does not have much to speak about as she has been given social justice and empowerment, women and child development, welfare of scheduled castes and backward classes.
Among the three ministers of state (MoS), only Bikram Singh Thekedar has independent charge (of Cooperation and Printing and Stationery) besides being attached with a minister for development and panchayats.
The other two MoSs — Krishan Bedi and Karan Dev Kamboj — have been attached with ministers.