Himachal Pradesh: Profiles of new Ministers; Six new faces, five old hands

Shimla: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jai Ram Thakur was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh after the party registered an impressive win in the recently held assembly elections. The newly inducted cabinet has six new faces and five old hands, apart from the 52-year old Jai Ram Thakur at the helm. In the 68-member House, the size of the cabinet is only 12 ministers including the Chief Minister.
Mahender Singh
Seven-time BJP MLA from Dharampur in Mandi district, Mahender Singh, was born on February 22, 1950. Before joining politics in 1990, Singh had also served the army in Dogra regiment and participated in the 1971 war as well. He joined the Congress in 1993 and got re-elected to the House. After that, he joined Himachal Vikas Congress led by Pt Sukh Ram and got elected to the assembly again. He was also made a cabinet minister. But after Sukh Ram joined the Congress, he left him and became a member of Lok Jantranrik Morcha but sometime later he joined the BJP. Since 1990, Singh has never lost any election though he has contested on different symbols. He has been elected to the cabinet twice. He has completed his intermediate.
Krishan Kapoor
A Gaddi leader from Kangra district, Krishan Kapoor is four-time MLA from Dharamshala and two-time minister. Born on June 21, 1951, Kapoor was also a member of Jana Sangh. His name was not on the first list of the cabinet ministers, which was handed over to Governor Acharya Devvrat but soon BJP amended the list to include him. Kapoor has defeated sitting cabinet minister Sudhir Sharma in the 2017 elections.
Suresh Bhardwaj
Born on March 15, 1952, Suresh Bhardwaj is a Brahmin face of the BJP. he is a four-time MLA from Shimla and one of the senior leaders of the party to have found a place in the cabinet. An ABVP activist from his college days, he had studied at Government Higher secondary school, Gumarwin (Bilaspur) and then DAV college Jalandhar, besides SD College Shimla. He did his LLB from Himachal Pradesh University. He remained close to the RSS and was jailed during the Emergency in 1975-77. He was elected as the president of the bar association in Shimla. Bhardwaj was elected to the state assembly first time in 1990. In 2002, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha. Bhardwaj was BJP chief in Himachal Pradesh from 2003 to 2006. Bhardwaj hails from village Bhamnoli in Rohru area of Shimla district. He took oath in Sanskrit.
Anil Sharma
Son of Pt Sukh Ram, former communication minister, Anil Sharma is a four-time MLA, who resigned from the Congress before the assembly polls. Born on June 30, he contested his first election in 1993 and made it to the cabinet. He was the minister for youth services and sports and forest during 1993-1996 but had to resign after CBI raids against his father Pt Sukh Ram in Mandi. Sharma, however, got elected to the assembly in 1998. Thereafter, he won Mandi assembly seat in 2012 on the Congress ticket and was inducted into the cabinet. In 2017, he fought the elections on the BJP ticket from Mandi and defeated Champa Thakur, daughter of health minister Kaul Singh Thakur.
Sraveen Chaudhary
Five-time MLA from Shahpur in Kangra district, Sraveen Chaudhary was born on January 21, 1996. A former cabinet minister, Chaudhary was first elected to the assembly in 1998 and has not lost any polls till now. She comes from a constituency where Major (Rtd) Vijai Singh Mankotia enjoyed dominance. Active in the RSS, she is also an OBC leader and wife of an army brigadier, who also joined BJP after retirement.
Ram Lal Markanda
A tribal from Lahual-Spiti , Ram Lal Mardanda is perhaps the most highly educated minister in the Jai Ram Thakur cabinet. He completed his MA, M.Phil and PhD from Himachal Pradesh University. He was born on October 17, 1966. An active student leader, he had remained Joint Secretary of the state unit of NSUI between 1989-93, and later general secretary HP Youth Congress. He started his electoral politics joining Himachal Vikas Congress led by Pt Sukh Ram and got elected to state legislative assembly in 1998. He remained a minister of state for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (Independent charge) and also was attached with the chief Minister for the additional charge of PWD in 2007.
Vipin Singh Parmar
A law graduate and student leader in his university days, Vipin Parmar was born on March 15, 1964. He remained an active worker of Rashtriya Sevak Sangh (RSS), ABVP and All India Akhil Vidyarthi Parishad. Parmar, a staunch Shanta Kumar loyalist, elected from Sulah—earlier Kumar’s constituency, he was first elected to the Assembly in 1998 and re-elected in December 2007. This is his third term.
Virender Kanwar
Varinder Kanwar, a four-time MLA from Kutlehar (Una), was the one who offered his assembly seat to former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal after he lost Sujanpur. Born on January 29, 1964, he is a law graduate besides holding a diploma in Pharmacy. A member of RSS since childhood and also worked in the ABVP and remained general secretary and president, BJYM (Una) between 1992-95 and 1995-2000 respectively. He was elected as member Zila Parishad, Una between 2000 and 2003 before getting elected to the assembly in 2003 and re-elected in December 2007.
Bikram Singh
Son of Kishan Chand, Bikram Singh (Thakur) was born on August 28, 1964, at village Jole (Jaswan) in Kangra district. A third term MLA, he was first elected in 2003 but he lost in 2007. Later in 2012 and 2017, he returned consecutively to the state assembly from Jaswan-Pragpur. He remained close to RSS and worked as President BJYM – youth wing of the BJP in 2000. He had served as vice-chairman H.P. Khadi & Gramudyog Board 1999-2003 and HP Forest Corporation.
Govind Singh Thakur
Three-time MLA from Manali , Govind Singh Thakur is the son of veteran BJP leader late Kunj Lal Thakur, a former minister. He was born on October 3 1968 at village Kanyal. A graduate, Thakur is a horticulturist. Like his father, he played an active role in the Sangh Parivar.
Dr. Rajiv Saizal
A medical professional, Dr Rajiv Saizal is the young Dalit face of the BJP. He was born on July 11, 1971. He is a third-time BJP MLA from Kasauli in Solan district. A staunch RSS activist, Saizal is a first-timer in the government.

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