Haryana Cabinet expanded

Bhupinder Singh Hooda

The Cabinet rank ministers sworn in by Governor Jagan Nath Pahadia include five from Congress -- Ajay Yadav, Randeep Surjewala, Mahendra Partap Singh, Paramvir Singh and Geeta Bukal.

The other Cabinet minister is Om Parkash Jain, an independent MLA. Both the Ministers of State -- Shiv Charan Sharma and Gopal Kanda -- are also independents MLAs.

Another independent MLA, Sukhbir Kataria, who was also to be sworn in as Minister of State could not make it to Raj Bhawan for taking oath. He will be sworn in later, according to Chief Secretary Urvashi Gulati.

This was the first expansion of the Congress-led ministry which came to power for the second consecutive term with the support of seven Independent MLAs and one from BSP as the party fell six short of majority in the 90-member Assembly.

Since the Cabinet can have a maximum of 13 ministers, the chief minister will administer oath to some MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries in the rank of the ministers.

Since talks with Haryana Janhit Congress-BL leader Kuldeep Bishnoi on joining the government remained inconclusive, some ministerial slots have been left vacant to accommodate its legislators in case of an agreement.

HJC-BL had made its maiden presence in the state assembly with six MLAs. The party had abstained from voting on the confidence motion sought by Hooda to prove his majority on the floor of the House.

Among the newly inducted ministers, two are old faces -- Ajay Yadav and Randeep Surjewala.

Two women ministers in the previous regime Kiran Chaudhary and Savitri Jindal, mother of Congress MP Navin Jindal, who have won this time too, have not been accommodated.

In today's expansion, Paramvir Singh, who was a Parliamentary Secretary in the previous regime, has been made a Cabinet minister.

The Cabinet expansion was delayed because seven Independent MLAs, with whose support the fledgling Hooda ministry sailed through in confidence vote, jockeyed for plum portfolios and the exercise scheduled for Friday was postponed at the last moment.

The three Independents who have not been accommodated are Jaleb Khan, Sultan and Prahlad Singh Gillan Khera.

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