Caste and regional factors, coupled with keeping ‘factionalism’ in check, seem to have played an important role in finalising the composition for the newly elected Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu cabinet in Himachal Pradesh.
Seven MLAs were sworn in as ministers in the Sukhu government on Sunday, ending almost a month-long suspense over who will make the cut. Keeping the caste balance in mind, Sukhu has picked four Rajputs, while one each from Schedule Tribe (ST), Other Backward Caste (OBC), and Schedule Caste (SC) have been included.
Rajputs are one of the largest caste groups in the state with leaders from the community consistently ruling the state since its formation. Of the seven ministers inducted, three are from Shimla district. Sukhu has also kept dissensions in check by including Vikramaditya Singh, son of former Himachal CM Virbhadra in the cabinet.
In the past, the party has been plagued by dissensions with intermittent bickering between leaders close to Sukhu and Himachal state unit chief Pratibha Singh, widow of Virbhadra Singh.
By accommodating Dhani Ram Shandil in the cabinet, the CM has also tried to keep in check leaders from the Solan area, who had been seeking better representation in the cabinet.
However, what could pose a challenge to the Sukhu government is a murmur of dissent arising from the Kangra region, where leaders believe not enough representation has been given. Ten of the winning MLAs, which represent 25% of the total strength of Congress legislature party in Himachal assembly, come from the Kangra region, but only one, Chandar Kumar, has been picked from the region.
धर्मशाला स्तिथ विधानसभा परिसर तपोवन में माननीय राज्यपाल जी सहित विधानसभा के सदस्यों के साथ सामूहिक चित्र । pic.twitter.com/4npZhckqMq— Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu (@SukhuSukhvinder) January 7, 2023
Picking two other leaders from district, including Ashish Butail, Palampur MLA, and Kishori Lal, Baijnath MLA, as Chief Parliamentary Secretaries, is being seen as an attempt to placate the leaders from the region.
But sources in Kangra unit said that leaders were unhappy that two AICC secretaries from Kangra, including former minister and AICC secretary Sudhir Sharma and AICC secretary RS Bali, were ignored in the cabinet expansion.
ALSO READ | Himachal House Heats Up on First Day of Winter Session, BJP Walks Out over Sukhu Govt’s ‘Undo’ Push
In the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, there were four leaders from the region in the cabinet, including the minister for forest Rakesh Pathania, minister for industries Bikram Thakur, minister for social justice Sarveen Chaudhary and Vipin Singh Parmar who was earlier health minister and later elected as Speaker of Himachal assembly.
The opposition BJP has already alleged bias against Kangra region in cabinet formation.
Read all the Latest Politics News here