The Himachal Pradesh cabinet was expanded on Thursday (July 30) with the induction of three ministers, the first expansion of the Jai Ram Thakur-led government since it came to power in 2017. Those inducted as cabinet ministers are Paonta Sahib MLA Sukh Ram Chaudhary, Nurpur MLA Rakesh Pathania and Ghumarwin MLA Rajinder Garg.
Governor Bandaru Dattatreya administered the oath of office to the new ministers at a function in the Raj Bhawan. COVID-19 protocols were in place at the event. While Sukh Ram and Rajinder Garg took oath in Hindi, Pathania took oath in English.
Born on April 15, 1964, Chaudhary is a backward class leader from Sirmaur district. He was a junior engineer in the electricity board before joining politics. He was elected to the state Assembly thrice in 2003, 2007 and 2017. He served as chief parliamentary secretary from 2009 to 2012.
The 56-year-old Nurpur legislator,Pathania, started his political career in 1991. Born on November 15, 1964 at Ladori village in Kangra district, Pathania was the BJP Kisan Morchas Kangra president before becoming its state secretary and a member of the partys state executive. A graduate, he was elected to the assembly as a BJP nominee in 1998 and re-elected as an independent in 2007 before becoming MLA for the third time in December 2017. Pathania belongs to the Rajput community.
Garg is a first-time MLA from Ghumarwin Assembly segment in Bilaspur district. Born on May 30, 1966 at Tandora, he is MSc in Botany. The journalist-turned-politician became a RSS Swayamsewak in 1982 and joined the ABVP in 1983.
The three ministerial berths in the state were lying vacant for the past several months. Anil Sharma, who was the power minister, had resigned from the Cabinet in April last year. Sharma had refused to campaign for the BJP candidate from Mandi Lok Sabha seat, Ram Swaroop Sharma, as his son Aashray was contesting from the seat on a Congress ticket.
Kishan Kapoor, who was the Civil Supplies Minister, resigned in May after he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kangra. Vipin Singh Parmar, who was the Health Minister, was appointed Speaker of the state assembly following resignation by the then Speaker Rajeev Bindal.