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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014

Virbhadra to take oath as CM today for record sixth term

Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times  Shimla, December 24, 2012
First Published: 22:24 IST(24/12/2012) | Last Updated: 11:50 IST(25/12/2012)

Congress veteran 78-year-old Virbhadra Singh will be sworn-in as chief minister of Himachal Pradesh for a record sixth term on Wednesday on the historic Ridge. He would be the 12th chief minister of the state.

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Ten other ministers are likely to be sworn in with him, said Ch Birender Singh, Congress general secretary in-charge of Himachal Pradesh. Singh met party chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday morning and is said to have discussed the contours of his government, even as the rival camp mounted pressure seeking more ministerial berths. Singh had flown to Delhi on Sunday.

Though Singh managed to get six of his loyalists in the new cabinet, the central leadership sought to do a balancing act by including two of his known detractors -- Kaul Singh Thakur and GS Bali -- in the list.

Others who have finally made to the cabinet, according to Birender Singh, are former state Congress chief Vidya Stokes, Sujan Singh Pathania, Thakur Singh Bharmouri from the tribal constituency of Bharmour, Dhani Ram Shandil, Prakash Chaudhary, Jagjivan Pal, Mukesh Agnihotri and Sudhir Sharma.

There was confusion over the name of Rakesh Kalia, third time MLA from Una district.

Young legislators - Rajesh Dharmani and Neeraj Bharti -- will be made parliamentary secretaries, he said.

Former industry minister Kuldeep Kumar is being seen as the obvious choice for the post of speaker.

Maximum representation of three ministerial berths has been given to Kangra district, from where the Congress reaped a rich harvest, winning 10 of the 15 seats.

Anil Sharma, the son of former telecom minister Sukh Ram, is also expectant of a berth in the cabinet.

Given the clamour among top state leaders to get their loyalists into the council of ministers, last-minute changes are not ruled out. Against this backdrop, there was brisk activity at Virbhadra's house, Holy Lodge.


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