Shimla: The suspence over inclusion of Virbhadra Singh in the Union cabinet ended this afternoon with his name appearing in the second list of cabinet ministers. This would be for the first time that Himachal will have two ministers at the Centre, As Anand Sharma, a Rajya Sabha member from Himachal was earlier chosen for a Cabinet berth, it was seen as the end of the road for Virbhadra considering that a tiny state like Himachal, with only four MPs in Lok Sabha, was unlikely to get any better deal.
But the Congress high command seems to have decided to respect Virbhadra’s seniority, considering his five tenures as chief minister of the state. According to senior journalist RC Lohumi, the Union government probably added Virbhadra’s name considering that Aanand Sharma’s tenure in the Rajya Sabha is about to expire in November this year, after which he will have to seek election from some Congress-ruled state, again leaving Himachal with only one minister.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today added 14 cabinet ministers and 45 ministers of state to his council of ministers. The cabinet ministers include Virbhadra Singh, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Farooq Abdullah, Dayanidhi Maran, M K Azhagari, A. Raja of the DMK, Mallikarjun Kharge, Kumari Selja, Subodh Kant Sahay, MS Gill, GK Vasan, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Mukul Wasnik and Kantilal Bhuria.