The Newz Radar
Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee working president Harsh Mahajan, who joined the BJP in New Delhi on Wednesday (September 28), had hogged the limelight for being the most expensive chairman among the heads of various corporations and boards during the last tenure of late Virbhadra Singh as the Chief Minister from 2012 to 2017.
Mahajan, a former Cabinet minister who remained in the Congress for about 50 years, was paid Rs 2,74,181 a month during his stint as the Chairman of the Himachal Pradesh State Cooperative Bank. Only then Forest Corporation chairman Kewal Singh Pathania and HPSIDC head Atul Sharma neared Mahajan’s expenditure at Rs 2,59,010 and Rs 2,42,900, respectively. The emoluments included the monthly expenditure incurred on salary, cost of driver, staff and vehicle.
The information was provided in the Vidhan Sabha by the then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in a written reply to a question by BJP MLA from Nachan Vinod Kumar during an Assembly session in August 2015. The BJP legislator had sought to know how much the Himachal Pradesh government was spending every month on the presidents and vice-presidents of various boards and corporations.
The government had said that it had appointed 19 chairpersons and 17 vice-chairpersons in various boards and corporations in the state. Their monthly expenditure was listed as follows:
Chairperson/vice-chairperson, corporation/board, monthly cost
Harsh Mahajan, HP State Cooperative Bank, Rs 2,74,181
Prakash Thakur, Horticulture Produce Marketing and Legislative Committee, Rs 38,024
Khwaja Khalil Ullah, Waqf Board, Rs 5,000
Satya Parmar, Social Welfare Board, Rs 45,000
Sushil Chand Ratna, Freedom Fighters Welfare Board, Rs 2,19,290
Surendra Mankotia, Employees and Other Workers Board, Rs 75,000
Jagdish Siphiya, Kangra Co-operative Bank, Rs 89,702
Hardeep Singh Bawa, Workers Welfare Board, Rs 1,01,026
Ajay Singh Bahadur, HIMFED, Rs 88,776
Kuldeep Pathania, Pollution Control Board, Rs 84,318
Atul Sharma, HPSIDC, Rs 2,42,900
Rajendra Rana, Disaster Management Cell, Rs 1,51,160
Kewal Singh Pathania, Forest Corporation, Rs 2,59,010
Major Vijay Singh Mankotia, Tourism Development Board, Rs 81,268
Harish Janartha, Tourism Corporation, Rs 1,23,659
Harsh Mahajan joined the BJP in Delhi in the presence of Union Ministers Piyush Goyal. He later met BJP president JP Nadda.
A former Animal Husbandry Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Mahajan remained Congress MLA from Chamba Assembly constituency thrice, winning consecutively in 1993, 1998 and 2003. He is the son of former Vidhan Sabha Speaker and Cabinet Minister Des Raj Mahajan.
Born in Chamba on December 12, 1955, he was associated with the Congress since 1972. He was also the president of the state Youth Congress from 1986 to 1995.
The development is being seen as a setback for the opposition Congress in Himachal as its two sitting MLAs, Lakhwinder Rana (Nalagarh) and Pawan Kajal (Kangra), had switched over to the BJP. Like Mahajan, Kajal too was a Congress working president.
Mahajan was made the state working president along with Rajinder Rana, Vinay Kumar and Kajal. With two Himachal Congress working presidents already in its kitty, the ruling BJP, aiming for ‘Mission Repeat’, has dealt a major blow to the Congress in the run-up to the state Assembly elections, which are likely to be held in November.