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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Kangra gets lion's share in cabinet

Naresh Kumar, Hindustan Times  Dharamsala, December 25, 2012
First Published: 20:25 IST(25/12/2012) | Last Updated: 23:47 IST(25/12/2012)

Kangra, as expected, has got the lion's share in the state cabinet with three of the nine MLAs inducted as ministers on Tuesday representing this region.

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The three ministers include four-time Nagrota MLA GS Bali, Fatehpur MLA Sujan Singh Pathania and Dharamsala MLA Sudhir Sharma. While Bali and Pathania were also ministers in the previous Virbhadra Singh government from 2002 to 2007, Sharma is a new face in the cabinet.

Besides, Neeraj Bharti, son of former MP Chander Kumar, has been made a chief parliamentary secretary (CPS).

However, senior Congress leader and Palampur MLA Brij Bihari Lal Butail had to pay the price for being hostile to Virbhadra before the assembly elections. Butail had fallen out with Virbhadra after switching over to former Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Kaul Singh Thakur's camp.

Though on the basis of seniority, he was considered a frontrunner for a ministerial berth, the absence of his name from the list has brought to the fore the factionalism in the party.

The newly sworn in chief minister, Virbhadra Singh, has also tried to balance caste equations in Kangra by giving representation to all the dominant communities. Sudhir Sharma, who made it to the assembly from a new constituency, is a Brahmin. His previous constituency, Baijnath, was reserved in the delimitation exercise. The other Brahmin leader from Kangra who has found a place in the cabinet is GS Bali. Sujan Singh Pathania, the only Congress leader from the Rajput community in the Kangra region to have won the elections, has also been rewarded with a ministerial berth.

Chaudharys, the most dominant community (OBC) in Kangra after Rajputs, have also got representation in the government with Neeraj Bharti getting the post of CPS. The other OBC leader who was in the race was Sulah MLA Jagjiwan Paul, an old-time Virbhadra loyalist. As two ministerial berths are still vacant, he may be inducted in the cabinet at a later stage.

Kangra district, the biggest and politically most significant one, has played a major role in bringing the Congress back to power. The party has won 10 of the 15 seats in the district.

Kangra has contributed significantly to the majority of the Congress in the House, given the fact that the party has performed badly in its traditional strongholds like Sirmaur and Chamba.

The BJP, which had won nine seats in Kangra district in the last elections as against 10 won by the Congress this time, had given four cabinet berths to the district. The four ministers were Ravinder Singh Ravi, Sarveen Chaudhary, Kishan Kapoor and Ramesh Dhawala.


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