Ex-BJP chief in HP cabinet

With Assembly elections in the state just a few months away, the Himachal Pradesh cabinet was expanded on Thursday with the induction of former BJP state chief Khimi Ram.

Governor Urmilla Singh administered the oath of office and secretary to Khimi Ram at a simple ceremony, attended by other ministers, at the Raj Bhawan here. Ram, who resigned as state BJP chief last week, stepped in the shoes of J P Nadda, whose seat was lying vacant.

Chief Minister P K Dhumal said the portfolio of the new minister would be announced soon. This would be the second expansion of the 50-month-old cabinet after Dhumal was sworn in as chief minister in December, 2007, and three cabinet ministers were added in October 2009.

Khimi Ram was elected as MLA from Banjjar constituency in Kullu in 2003 and retained his seat in 2007. He was elected deputy speaker of the Assembly in January 2008 but resigned from the post on his appointment as state BJP chief in February 2010.

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