9 ministers likely to take oath with Virbhadra today

Congress leader and state party PCC president Virbhadra Singh (78) will be sworn in as the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh for a record sixth time at Ridge Ground on Tuesday. Governor Urmila Singh will administer him oath of office and secrecy.

Initially, Virbhadra was to take oath alone, but pressurised by detractors and Cabinet aspirants, the Congress high command is understood to have asked him to include senior leaders like Vidya Stokes and former PCC president Kaul Singh Thakur.

Raj Bhawan sources said that those likely to take oath include Stokes, Thakur, G S Bali, Sujan Singh Pathania, Prakash Chaudhary, Mukesh Agnihotri, Thakur Singh Bharmauri, Sudhir Sharma and Dhani Ram Shandil.

Asked who else will take oath on Tuesday, Virbhadra said, "There are a few names. A fax has come from Delhi. Names of ministers will be announced later."

Since Sunday, there's reportedly hectic lobbying for ministerial positions and Virbhadra had to rush to Delhi to meet senior central leaders, including Ahmed Patel.

On Monday morning, he met party president Sonia Gandhi.

Ridge gears up for swearing-in

On Tuesday, the Ridge in Shimla is set to hold the third oath taking ceremony for the state chief minister. Earlier, Prem Kumar Dhumal (2007) and Dr Y S Parmar (1971) had taken oath at the Ridge as the chief minister.

Arrangements have been made for over 5,000 people, who will attend the ceremony. "We have deployed eight police reserves and two traffic police reserves for the ceremony. We have also equipped several places with cameras for security purposes," Deputy Commissioner Subashish Panda said.

The ceremony will start at 9 am.

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