Assam CM expects to expand his council of ministers this week


Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is expected to expand his 14-member council of ministers this week for the first time since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance returned to power last year. The council has space for four more ministers. Sarma last week promised representation to hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao in his government, which has 11 ministers from the BJP, two from Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and one from the United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL).

BJP has four lawmakers from Karbii Anglong -- Nomal Momin, the deputy speaker of assembly, Dorsing Ronghang, Bidya Singh Engleng and Roop Singh Terang. Nandita Garlosa is the lone BJP legislator from Dima Hasao. More ministers from AGP and UPPL could also be accommodated.

“As the senior-most MLA [member of legislative assembly], Ranjit Dutta, the party’s former state president, should be accommodated in the Cabinet. But it is the chief minister’s prerogative who he chooses ...,” said BJP leader Rajen Gohain. BJP lawmaker Ramakanta Deuri backed Gohain’s request for berths to Dutta and another former minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya. “Dutta and Bhattacharya led the party in the state when BJP was not at its peak. Such people who were associated with the party during its bad days should be honoured. But it is up to the chief minister who will be selected.”

State BJP chief Bhabesh Kalita said there is no question of honouring or dishonouring anyone. He added the state government is functioning smoothly under Sarma and everyone is satisfied with its performance.

Minister and AGP chief Atul Bora said they sought three Cabinet berths after the 2021 polls. “We want one more berth and it is for the chief minister to decide. He has said it will be a mini-expansion of the Cabinet this time. It is his prerogative.” UPPL chief Pramod Boro said the party has asked Sarma for one more berth.

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