Virbhadra does a balancing act to strike balance in cabinet | india | Hindustan Times
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Virbhadra does a balancing act to strike balance in cabinet

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh has done a balancing act in representing region and caste while forming his cabinet.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2012 20:17 IST
Gaurav Bisht

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh has done a balancing act in representing region and caste while forming his cabinet.

With Kangra being most significant, it has three ministers and one parliamentary segment. In Kangra, the maximum representation has been given to Brahmans. Both GS Bali and Sudhir Sharma, who were sworn in as cabinet ministers, represent the Brahman community. GS Bali is one of the senior most leaders in Kangra region and he has been elected for the fourth time.

While this time, the elections were tough for Sudhir Sharma who proved his worth of a new turf. Sudhir, after losing his Baijnath assembly constituency, had shifted to Dharamsala.

Sujan Singh Pathania, a staunch Virbhadra Singh loyalist, represents the dominant Rajput community in Kangra district which has the highest number of seats. Young Neeraj Bharati was sworn in as chief parliamentary secretary to represent the powerful other backward classes.

Thakur Singh Bharmouri from Bharmour represents the tribal regions. There are three tribal constituencies, including Bharmour, Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts.

Journalist-turned politician Mukesh Agnihotri, who registered his third consecutive win, represents both Una district and Brahmans. There are three Congress legislators of the total five in Una district.

Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's constituency, Hamirpur district, has gone unrepresented. Virbhadra Singh has again struck a regional balance by appointing Ghumarwein MLA Rajesh Dharmani as a chief parliamentary secretary, who represents Bilaspur district as well as the Bhraman community.

In Mandi district, which has 10 parliamentary segments, former HPCC president Kaul Singh has been made a minister from the Rajput quota while Parkash Chaudhary represents the Dalit. Till far, there has been no representation given to Kullu district but there is possibility that Karan Singh could be made deputy speaker.

In Sirmaur, a strong Congress bastion which fell to the BJP this time, Virbhadra Singh appointed first-time legislator Vinay Kumar as a chief parliamentary secretary. Vinay Kumar, son of late Congress MLA Prem Singh, had lost the byelection in Renuka after his father's death.

In Shimla district that comprises of the eight assembly segments, Vidya Stokes and chief minister Vibhadra Singh hail from the Rajput community. In Solan, two-time Lok Sabha member Dhani Ram Shandil has been made a cabinet minister. Member of Congress Working Committee, Shandil hails from the dalit community.

The upper caste in Himachal is 50.01% of the total population in the state. While the scheduled caste is 25.59%, there is 4.32% tribal population in the state. The other backward classes are 17.08%. There is no legislator from the minority which is only 3% of the total population.

What's more interesting is that not only castes or regions, Virbhadra Singh has also attempted to accommodate legislators from the rival camp. Kaul Singh Thakur, Dhani Ram Shandil and GS Bali are from the rival camp. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh's one-time foremost political adversary Vidya Stokes at the last moment managed to get her loyalist Rajesh Dharmani made as a chief parliamentary secretary. Virbhadra has left two cabinet berths vacant. Speculations are rife that one of the berths is being kept for Dalhousie legislator Asha Kumari who is facing a corruption case. Asha Kumari, after getting the clean chit, could be made a minister.