Jai Ram Thakur takes oath as new chief minister of Himachal

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With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Chief Amit Shah on the dias, BJP’s five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur and newly elected BJP legislative party leader took the oath of new Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister at Ridge Ridge Maidan in Shimla on December 27.

2 (1)Along with Thakur, 11 others were also sworn-in by Governor Acharya Dev Vrat. Interestingly no minister has been picked from Bilaspur district, home of Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda and Hamirpur, home of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was BJP candidate for the chief minister’s post.

The new government led by Thakur took the oath of office and secrecy at a grand ceremony in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other senior BJP leaders.

Others who took the oath include Mahendra Singh, Kishan Kapoor, Suresh Bhardwaj, Anil Sharma, Sarveen Choudhary, Ram Lal Markanda, Virender Kanwar. Senior leader and former minister Rajeev Bindal was however excluded from the list. Interestingly, Kishan Kapoor’s name was included in the list at the eleventh hour after the intervention of former Chief Minister Shanta Kumar.

It seems that former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has upper hand in the cabinet as atleast five of his supporters have been made ministers including Virendra Kanwar, who first offered his seat to Dhumal after he lost from Sujanpur.

“People have shown faith in us, will try to meet their expectations,” said Jai Ram Thakur earlier.

The 52-year-old and five-time legislator was picked to be the hill state’s 14th chief minister after Dhumal, projected by the BJP for the top post, lost his election even as the party swept 44 of the state’s 68 seats.

2 (2)Earlier, chief minister designates Thakur, Union minister Nadda, former chief minister Dhumal and in charge for party affairs, Pandey visited the Ridge and reviewed the arrangements. Besides intelligence men in plain clothes, about 1,000 security men have been deployed on security duty. Security was even beefed up and sharpshooters were deployed at several locations. All entry point at interstate borders were kept under vigil.

This is for the fourth time that the swearing-in ceremony is taking place outside Raj Bhawan at the Ridge. Dr Y S Parmar was administered the oath at the Ridge in the presence of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi after Himachal attained statehood on January 25, 1971. Prem Kumar Dhumal, in 2007 was also administered the oath at the Ridge.

While this was so, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is expected to arrive in Shimla on December 29. He will meet all party candidates in Shimla. There is also the speculation of electing Congress Legislative Party leader on that day. Though outgoing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is considered as the front-runner for the post, the possibility of electing new leader cannot be ruled out at this stage. However, among others in the fray are Asha Kumari and Mukesh Agnihotri.