DW BUREAU / CHANDIGARH
Nearly three weeks after taking oath, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday gave shape to his council of ministers by inducting 10 new members including one from ally JJP and an independent.Khattar and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala took oath on October 27 but no other member was sworn in over the next 17 days.
The induction of six cabinet-rank and four ministers of state now takes the strength of the ministry to 12, leaving room for two more in any future expansion. Altogether, the state with a 90-member assembly can have 14 ministers.
Haryana Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya administered the oath to new ministers at a ceremony on the lawns of the Raj Bhawan here.
Among the 10 new ministers, eight are from Khattar’s Bharatiya Janata Party and one from Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), besides an independent. Seven independents are supporting the BJP-JJP government.
Barring former hockey player-turned-BJP MLA Sandeep Singh, all ministers took oath in Hindi. Donning a saffron turban, Singh said the words in Punjabi.
Kamlesh Dhanda, the BJP MLA from Kalayat assembly seat, is the lone woman minister. Those inducted as cabinet ministers include five BJP members: six-time MLA Anil Vij (Ambala Cantonment), former Speaker Kanwar Pal Gujjar (Jagadhri), Mool Chand Sharma (Ballabgarh), Jai Parkash Dalal (Loharu) and Banwari Lal (Bawal).
The sixth cabinet-rank minister is the independent from Rania, former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala’s estranged brother Ranjit Singh. The new ministers of state are Om Prakash Yadav (Narnaul), Kamlesh Dhanda (Kalayat), Sandeep Singh (Pehowa) and Anoop Dhanak (Uklana), the lone JJP member inducted in this expansion.
Dhanda, Singh and Dalal are first-time legislators.
In the council of ministers, which now has 12 members including the chief minister, nine are from the BJP, two from the JJP and one is an independent.
Ambala, Sirsa, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Karnal, Hissar and Kurukshetra parliamentary constituencies are represented in the Haryana ministry.
While Khattar and Anil Vij are from the Punjabi community, Dushyant Chautala, his grand uncle Ranjit Singh Chautala, J P Dalal and Kamlesh Dhanda are Jats. Banwari Lal is the BJP’s Dalit face.
Anil Vij and Banwari Lal are the only two members from previous Khattar-led ministry who won the assembly polls again. Eight ministers, including veterans Ram Bilas Sharma, O P Dhankar and Capt Abhimanyu, lost.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party with 40 seats, but failed to make it across the halfway mark on its own. Dushyant Chautala’s JJP, which had broken off from the Indian National Lok Dal a few months ago, then came to its rescue with its 10 MLAs. Faridabad MP and Union minister Krishan Pal Gurjar dismissed the opposition claim that the BJP-JJP coalition is set to fail.
“They have no issue. They have to pass time for five years and they will keep on saying that this government will not last the full term. But their wish will never come true,” he told reporters.
“We will provide a strong and stable government,” he said.
On the aspirations of those left out of the ministry, Gurjar said the party had to strike a caste and region balance, and also accommodate senior leaders.
“There could not have been a better council of ministers than this,” he said.
Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, state BJP chief Subhash Barala, BJP’s Haryana unit in-charge Anil Jain, Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, JJP state chief Nishan Singh also attended the ceremony.