Shimla, Dec 25: Veteran Congress leader Virbhadra Singh was sworn in as the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh for the record sixth time after the Congress wrested the state from the BJP in the elections held in November.
Singh, who will head a ten-member ministry, was administered by Governor Urmilla Singh at the historic Ridge Maidan here. Nine other members of his cabinet also took the oath. A large crowd had turned up on the occasion that was held outside the Raj Bhavan for just the third time in the history of the hilly state.
The cabinet ministers who were sworn in besides Singh are eight-time MLA Vidya Stokes, Kaul Singh Thakur, Sujan Singh Pathania, G S Bali, Thakur Singh Bharmauri, Sudhir Sharma, Mukesh Agnihotri, Prakash Chowdhary and Dhani Ram Shandil.
The final decision on the ministry was taken after Singh spoke with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on Monday. Singh himself was formally elected as the Congress Legislature Party's leader in Shimla on Saturday.
The new Council of Ministers in Singh's fresh government comprises three members from Kangra district, two from Shimla and Mandi districts and one each from Chamba, Una and Solan districts. The Congress, which has 36 MLAs in the 68-member assembly, had won 10 out of 15 seats in Kangra. One Independent MLA has extended unconditional support to the party.
Singh had first become the CM of Himachal Pradesh in 1983 and in his five-decade-long political career, he was elected MLA seven times and MP five times. He was also made president of the Gimachal unit of the Congress four times and represents Mandi seat in the present Lok Sabha.
Prakash Chowdhary and Dhani Ram Shandil represent the Scheduled Castes while Thakur Singh Bharmauri represents the Scheduled Tribes.