Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Thursday expanded his Cabinet, inducting two ministers from Garhwal, seen as an attempt to assuage leaders from the region, who has often complained of neglect, ahead of next year’s assembly polls.
Vikasnagar MLA Nav Prabhat and Badrinath MLA Rajendra Bhandari were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Krishna Kant Paul at a simple function at the Raj Bhawan in the presence of Rawat and a host of dignitaries.
With assembly elections in Uttarakahnd due next year, induction of the two Garhwal leaders is seen as Rawat’s attempt to address grievances in a section of the party about alleged neglect of the region in appointments to important posts within the party and government.
The resentment had been voiced even by Pradesh Party President Kishore Upadhyay on a couple of occasions.
Two berths in Harish Rawat’s Cabinet had been vacant for some time. While the one held by late Surendra Kumar Rakesh fell vacant in February last year following his death, the other one fell vacant after former agriculture minister Harak Singh Rawat revolted against his own government in March this year.
A series of developments had led to imposition of President’s rule in the state which was subsequently scrapped by the Supreme Court and Rawat government was reinstated.
The strength of the Ministry is now 12 including Rawat.
Harish Rawat had recently been to Delhi to discuss Cabinet expansion with party chief Sonia Gandhi.