Khattar inducts 10 in 1st cabinet expansion



After 18 days of dilly-dallying, the BJP-led Khattar government in Haryana on Thursday did the first Cabinet expansion by inducting 10 council of ministers, comprising one from its alliance partner, lone woman and an Independent.

The cabinet can have 14 members, including the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, with two slots kept for the future expansion.

Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya admistered oath to six Cabinet ministers and four Ministers of State (Independent charge) at a simple ceremony in Raj Bhawan that lasted less than an hour.

The government now has eight BJP ministers besides Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar (65), who is at the helm for his second consecutive term.

The saffron party's post-poll partner and alliance partner Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), a defector of the state's once prominent regional outfit Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), got lone minister Annop Dhanak along with Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, 31, in the government.

The inducted council of ministers were six-time Ambala (Cantonment) legislator Anil Vij, who was Health Minister in the previous government; former Speaker and three-time Legislator Kanwar Pal Gujjar, who belong to the Other Backward Class category, and BJP's Dalit face Banwari Lal, who was previously a minister of state.

Khattar and Vij are from the Punjabi community.

The other Cabinet ministers from the BJP quota were two-time Legislator Mool Chand Sharma and first-timer J.P. Dalal.

The lone woman in the cabinet is BJP's Kamlesh Dhanda, who belongs to the Jat community that comprises 28 per cent of the state's population. Her husband Narsingh Dhanda was a former minister.

JJP's Dhanak was inducted as the Minister of State.

The lone Independent who got the Cabinet berth was Ranjit Chautala, estranged brother of INLD President O.P. Chautala. He was a minister in the Devi Lal cabinet.

BJP's first-time Legislator and former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh, who produced incredible flicks, inducted into the government as a Minister.

A day before the cabinet expansion, the Governor allocated 11 portfolios, including key departments of Revenue and Disaster Management, Excise and Taxation and Industry to Dushyant.

The Chief Minister kept Home, Finance, Urban Local Bodies and Town and Country Planning with him.

Both Khattar and Dushyant took oath of office on October 27 here.

The polls were held on October 21 and the results declared on October 24.

The BJP won 40 seats with six short of a majority in the 90-member Assembly.

Besides the 10 JJP legislators, seven independent MLAs have also extended support to the BJP, helping it reach a tally of 57 seats.

The Congress won 31 seats, improving its tally from 19 in 2014.

BJP's outgoing eight ministers -- Captain Abhimanyu, O.P. Dhankar, Ram Bilas Sharma, Kavita Jain, Krishan Lal Panwar, Manish Grover, Karan Dev Kamboj and Krishan Kumar Bedi -- all ended up with humiliating defeat.

The Congress had criticised Khattar over the delay in inducting ministers, with its national spokesman Randeep Surjewala saying the BJP-JJP "are busy in fighting to secure maximum number of ministerial portfolios".IANS