Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, his cabinet ministers and other top government officials are all set to attend the first session of the state Assembly starting on Tuesday in Kangra district’s Dharamshala area.
During the four-day long session, Governor Acharya Devvrat will address the House and administer the oath to the new MLAs, apart from electing a new Speaker and setting out priorities of the government listed in the vision document of the BJP—now adopted as an official document.
As per the information, CM Thakur, along with some of his cabinet ministers, will reach Dharamshala on Monday and will be lodged at Circuit House there, while others will occupy the rest houses of their respective departments. However, the MLAs –both of BJP and the Opposition – will be staying at hotels.
Unlike previous House sessions, some of the prominent faces, like former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, veteran Congress leaders Vidya Stokes, Kaul Singh Thakur and G S Bali, BJP’s firebrand MLAs viz Ravinder Ravi and Randhir Sharma, apart from other party seniors like Gulab Singh Thakur and Maheshwar Singh will be not be present.
This is first time when CM Thakur, who used to be seated in the front row of the Opposition benches, will be occupying the chair of leaders of the House, which was earlier held by former CM Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Out of 11 ministers in Thakur’s cabinet, six are new faces. Industries Minister in the Congress government – who was also in charge of the Parliamentary affairs – will occupy the first seat in the Opposition row with former CM Singh next to him.
Due to the sudden transfer of Deputy Commissioner (Kangra) C P Verma, there was a lot of confusion at local administration level regarding the arrangements for stay and hiring of rooms. As many Dharamshala and McLeodganj hotels have been ordered to be closed by the High Court for their shortcomings in terms of clearances to operate, the officials were hard pressed to draw-up new list of hotels for lodging MLAs and other officials.
Food and Supplies Minister Krishan Kapoor, who is also Dharamshala MLA, said everything would be worked out by Sunday after he reached Dharamshala. He said, “I had already held a meeting with the officials. New DC Sandip Kumar may have joined already. There are other officials too engaged in this job.”
Kapoor said the CM would get a rousing welcome in Dharamshala as it would be his first visit to the town after formation of the government. The session will go smoothly, he added.
Meanwhile, newly appointed protem Speaker Ramesh Dhawala said, “Holding of session at Dharamshala was a huge waste of money in the small state with limited resources. The state can’t afford two Vidhan Sabhas, one at Shimla and another at Dharamshala. I am not in it’s favour personally.”