Shimla, Aug 1 (IANS) In a first major reshuffle in his government in two-and-a-half years, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has allocated portfolios to three new Ministers, besides changing those of other ministerial colleagues.
The Chief Minister has retained eight departments, including Finance, Home, Tourism, Excise and Taxation, and Public Works.
Veteran legislators Mahender Singh Thakur and Suresh Bhardwaj were given crucial portfolios, while another senior BJP leader Sarween Chaudhary, the lone woman Minister in the Council of Ministers, was divested of the important Urban Development Department, according to a notification issued on Friday night.
First-time Minister Rajiv Saizal, an ayurveda doctor by profession, was given the crucial Health and Family Welfare portfolio that was earlier with the Chief Minister.
The Urban Development portfolio has now gone to Suresh Bhardwaj, a legislator from Shimla, who will also hold the charge of Parliamentary Affairs.
Chaudhary will now look after Social Justice and Empowerment, a portfolio she held in the previous BJP government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Jal Shakti Minister Mahender Singh Thakur will continue to hold the existing portfolios.
The Transport Ministry was allocated to Bikram Singh, besides the Industries Department.
Another first-timer Minister Govind Singh Thakur was allocated the Education portfolio.
Ram Lal Markanda was given the charge of the Technical Education Department. The Agriculture Department's charge, earlier with Markanda, has now been handed over to Virender Kanwar, who will continue to hold the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Departments.
The first Cabinet expansion took place a day earlier when Sukh Ram Chaudhary, Rakesh Pathania, and Rajinder Garg, all first-time Ministers, were inducted.
Chaudhary was given the MPP and Power portfolio, and Pathania allocated the Forest Department. Garg was given the charge of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Departments.