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Will bring back old pension scheme in 1st cabinet meet: Himachal Pradesh CM | India News – Times of India

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SHIMLA: Four-time Congress legislator Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu took oath Sunday as the 15th CM of Himachal Pradesh and Mukesh Agnihotri was sworn in as the first deputy CM of the hill state where the party ran its campaign by promising one lakh jobs and the old pension scheme to government employees.
Sukhu later said his government will bring back the old pension scheme (OPS) at the first cabinet meeting. “We have given 10 guarantees and we will implement them. We will give a transparent and honest government,” he told ANI. OPS was a contentious issue in the hill state after it was discontinued in 2004. In OPS, pension was 50% of the last drawn salary of the employee and the entire amount was paid by the government.
Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar administered the oath of office to Sukhu, 58, and Agnihotri, 60, around 2pm at a ceremony on the historic Ridge Maidan in Shimla, which was attended by senior Congress functionaries such Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, and Rahul Gandhi, who took a short break from his Bharat Jodo Yatra.
In the 68-member assembly, Congress has 40 MLAs, BJP 25 and others three after the recent assembly elections.
Sukhu and Agnihotri, a five-time MLA for Haorli in Una district and a former minister, were chosen for the top jobs Saturday after days of bickering over the CM’s post by the Congress camp of parliamentarian and state party unit chief Pratibha Singh, the wife of party stalwart and former CM Virbhadra Singh.
Sukhu’s mother, wife and daughters were present at the swearing-in, where he and Agnihotri took the oath in Hindi. No other minister has been sworn in yet.
He is the first Congress CM from lower Himachal, as all his party predecessors were from Shimla and Sirmaur districts of upper Himachal. Sukhu said work to be done for Himachal will be discussed after the formation of the cabinet.
Congress has its task cut out in the hill state as it would inherit a debt burden of Rs 70,000 crore. In its election manifesto, ‘Congress Pratigya Patra 2022’, the party promised one lakh jobs, OPS, a youth commission, 300 units of free power, Rs 10 crore startup fund in every assembly constituency (which comes to Rs 680 crore), and Rs 1,500 a month for women in the 18-60 age bracket. It has also promised to buy 10 litres of milk from each cattle farmer and cow dung at the rate of Rs 2 a kg.
Agnihotri assured complete coordination in the government. “Our pair is no. 1. When Sukhvinder Sukhu was Himachal Congress president, I was a minister then. The pair chosen by the people of the state is a super hit… The guarantee of OPS will definitely be implemented at the earliest. The chariot of BJP has been stopped in Devbhoomi,” he said.
PM Narendra Modi congratulated Sukhu. “Congratulations to Shri Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu Ji on taking oath as Himachal Pradesh CM. I assure all possible cooperation from the Centre to further the development of Himachal Pradesh,” he tweeted.
Rahul Gandhi, who reached Shimla from Rajasthan, said, “Congress is committed to fulfil all promises”. He gave Pratibha Singh, who was not happy with the high command’s decision to make Sukhu the CM, a hug on the dais.
Sukhu met Pratibha at her home, Holly Lodge, before the oath-taking and invited her to the ceremony.
With Sukhu at the helm, the 2024 parliamentary contest in the Hamirpur seat, represented by Union minister Anurag Thakur, looks set to get interesting. Hamirpur district alone comprises five assembly seats and BJP failed to win even one. Similarly, in the Dehra assembly seat of Kangra district and Dharampur assembly seat of Mandi district, also under Hamirpur parliamentary seat, BJP could not win despite it being the home constituency of BJP national president JP Nadda.



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