Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda could not have formed his government without the support of party-hoppers and independent MLAs, some of whom he rewarded with ministerial berths.
These ministers, barring one exception, not only remained loyal to him throughout, but were also the most regular in attending state cabinet meetings. They -- health minister Rao Narender Singh, cooperation minister Satpal Sangwan and labour and employment Shiv Charan Lal Sharma -- have done better than senior ministers such as excise and taxation minister Kiran Choudhry and revenue and disaster management minister Mahender Partap Singh from the Congress.
Choudhry, Mahender Partap, parliamentary affairs minister Randeep Singh Surjewala, power minister Ajay Singh Yadav and finance minister Harmohinder Singh Chattha, all senior leaders of the ruling party, are among the ones with the lowest attendance at meetings of the state council of ministers during the present government. The council of ministers met 42 times under the chairmanship of the chief minister in the past five years.
Choudhry, who was inducted into the state cabinet on January 28, 2011, had the lowest attendance record, attending 21 of the 35 meetings held thereafter. Mahender Partap, Surjewala, Ajay Yadav and Chattha were somewhat more regular than her, but their attendance in meetings of the council of ministers is 80% and below, according to information accessed under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. Their party colleague, agriculture minister Paramvir Singh, attended 37 of the 42 meetings, but it is education minister Geeta Bhukkal who is among those with the best attendance record. She skipped only one of the cabinet meetings held between November 2009 and August 2014.
Rao Narender and Satpal Sangwan, who had crossed over to the Congress from the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) after the 2009 assembly elections, and minister of state for labour and employment Shiv Charan Lal Sharma, an Independent MLA, were equally regular, if not more, with 97% attendance record. Another Independent legislator, Gopal Kanda, who was the minister of state for home, remained a member of the council of ministers from November 2009 to August 2012 with 83% attendance.
While Rao Narender and Sangwan, who were inducted as ministers in January 2011, have been fielded by the Congress from Narnaul and Dadri constituencies for the October 15 assembly polls, Sharma, though keen on the Congress ticket, had no such luck and is contesting as an Independent from Faridabad NIT once again.
Kanda, who fell out with the Congress after his arrest by Delhi police in a suicide case, has floated his own political outfit.
“The ministers, as per the rules, inform the chief minister about their absence from the meetings of the council of ministers. The excise and taxation minister, for instance, had on most occasions informed the CM in advance about her absence from the meetings due to illness, tour, etc. While others also sent the information in writing, not every minister has been meticulous about this,” an official said.
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