Himachal Pradesh Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today expanded his cabinet and inducted former state BJP president Khimi Ram as a minister to fill-up lone vacancy created by resignation of BJPs national General Secretary J.P.Nadda in March 2010.
He was administered oath of office and secrecy this morning by Governor Urmila Singh at Rajbhawan. The Chief Minister said later that he would announce portfolio for the minister later in the day after consultations with the Governor.
Officials said Khimi Ram may be given forests portfolio,earlier held by Nadda. The Chief Minister was apparently waiting for right opportunity to induct a new minister.
Khimi Ram,a former Deputy Speaker was replaced by a younger party MLA Satpal Singh Satti as part of the organizational changes in the state,which is going to the Assembly polls later this year.
The party was caught in a serious crisis after a section of the leaders led by Maheshwar Singh,a former BJP state president and ex- MP,resigned and formed a new political outfit leveling allegations of corruption ,nepotism and illegal land sale deals.
Khimi Rams induction in less than 60 hours,however has left a senior BJP MLA from Shimla Suresh Bhardwajalso a former State party president sulking as it was he who had expected the lone cabinet berth going his way .Today,he was conspicuous by his absence from the function beside some MLAs belonging to veteran party leader Shanta Kumar s camp.
Dhumal gave Khimi Ram ,an honorable place in the cabinet after he was dislodged from the party post,jeopardizing Bhardwajs chances to join the ministry.
Khimi Ram was elected as MLA from Banjjar constituency in Kullu in 2003 and retained his seat in 2007.
Dhumal apparently chose Khimi Ram for the cabinet position because Maheshwar Singh hails from Kullu and could act as Dhumals answer to counter Singhs influence in the area as BJP rebel.
Asked if he would appoint new Chief parliamentary secretary in place of Satti,who has been named as new party chief,Dhumal said Satti hasnt resigned his position.Everything is possible once he puts down his papers.