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Lobbying on for cabinet berths in Himachal

Bhawani Negi | Shimla |

It is going to be a tough balancing act for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the cabinet on seniority and region basis after the party has won with a good majority in Himachal Pradesh.

The BJP has picked a five-time winner as Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, while the choice of cabinet ministers is not going to be easy job with so many seniors vying for the plum cabinet portfolios.

The ambiguity prevails with many names doing the rounds, however the designate Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has hinted his cabinet will be a mix of experienced and young.

“The high command will decide. The list is not final yet,” said state BJP chief, Satpal Singh Satti, hinting that not all the ministers may take oath with the CM.

The BJP this time won 44 seats out of 68, getting maximum seats in Kangra and Mandi, while the size of the cabinet cannot be more than 12, including the CM.

BJP insiders said while the high command this time is likely to give precedence to the MLAs with organisational or RSS background, hectic lobbying was being done by different senior leaders to get their loyalists in till late evening.

Some front runners for the cabinet, which may take oath with the CM on Wednesday may be from amongst the senior leaders, four-time MLA and former BJP chief, Suresh Bhardwaj from Shimla, former health minister and five time MLA in a row, Rajeev Bindal from Sirmaur, former minister, Anil Sharma from Mandi with a few names from Kangra district.

Former minister from Shahpur, four-time MLA Sarveen Chaudhary from Kangra is among the senior most in three BJP women MLAs elected this time. She may be the obvious choice for cabinet, being senior and from Other Backward Classes.

BJP insiders said from Mandi, seven time MLA in a row and former minister, Mahender Singh Thakur, who has contested as independent, on Himachal Vikas Congress ticket and BJP, may also have to be considered in the cabinet as he is senior in the administrative experience and is vocal in aspirations.

Former ministers from Kangra, Ramesh Dhawala, who is four time MLA, and former minister, Krishan Kapoor- both loyalists of former CM, Shanta Kumar- are claimants in the ministry from Kangra.

Three-time MLA and a former minister from Lahaul Spiti, Ram Lal Markanday may be given representation from the tribal quota, as the state has three tribal segments, with two of them going with BJP this time.

As per region basis Kangra District with 15 constituencies has played an important role as BJP won 11 seats here.

The BJP almost swept Mandi, the second biggest district, getting nine out of ten seats for the first time.