Usually the Himachal Pradesh secretariat is abuzz with activity, at least on the first day of the week, but with chief minister Virbhadra Singh away for election campaigning in Delhi, the building wore almost a deserted look on Monday.
Only two ministers - irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes and industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri - attended their offices on Monday. While few of ministers were touring their constituencies many others are said to be in the states that are going to polls. Health minister Kaul Singh Thakur was on tour to Mandi district.
Forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri was touring his constituency Bharmour, “The minister will leave for Delhi on Wednesday,” said a staff member at the forest minister's office.
Both the ministers from Kangra engaged in the battle of supremacy - food minister GS Bali and urban development minister Sudhir Sharma - are camping in Delhi. Both Bali and the Sudhir flew to Delhi along with chief minister Virbhadra Singh in the government chopper that took off from the Kangra airport on Sunday.
“I had been away to Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for canvassing. I returned on Sunday night,” industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri told the Hindustan Times.
Excise minister Parkash Chaudhary is touring his Balh constituency, while his colleague, social justice minister Dhani Ram Shandil, was away to his constituency, Solan. Power minister Sujjan Singh Pathania was also busy in his constituency - Fatehpur.
Virbhadra Singh who flew to Delhi is likely to return to the state capital on Tuesday and will again leave for Delhi after the swearing-in ceremony of Himachal Pradesh high court chief justice MA Mir on November 27.
Virbhadra Singh is likely to stay in Delhi till November 28 and would resume tour of his Shimla (rural) constituency after he returns.
The chief minister has been repeatedly suggesting his cabinet colleagues to spend more time in offices rather than touring constituencies.
Not only the ministers were away from the secretariat but principal secretaries too were seen in half to the normal strength in the HP secretariat. The attendance in the secretariat became thinner after lunch.