After all the hype and hoopla, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is finally set to expand his cabinet on April 26. The swearing-in is likely to take place in Raj Bhawan here at 10 am.
Sources said Dispur has already made intimation with Raj Bhawan for necessary arrangements for the swearing-in ceremony.
The development came after Chief Minister Sonowal on April 21 obtaining the approval of BJP chief Amit Shah to expand his ministry and fill up the vacancies. Party sources said of the eight vacancies, seven will be filled up now while one berth will be kept vacant.
According to party sources, Sonowal is likely to induct seven ministers with one member each from Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and five MLAs from the BJP. Both AGP and BPF are alliance partners of the saffron party in the state.
The Sonowal cabinet at present has 11 ministers, including the chief minister, of which two each are from the AGP and BPF.
Among those likely to be inducted are Sonari MLA Tapan Kumar Gogoi, Jagiroad MLA Pijush Hazarika, Gauhati East MLA Siddhartha Bhattacharya, Diphu MLA Sum Ronghang and Batadraba MLA Angoorlota Deka from BJP, Tamulpur MLA Emmanuel Mosahary from BPF and Bongaigaon MLA Phani Bhusan Choudhury from AGP.
Sources further said ministers Pramila Rani Brahma and Pallab Lochan Das likely to lose Forest and Environment and Power portfolios respectively.
Similarly PWD minister Parimal Suklabaidya is likely to be replaced by Jagiroad legislator Pijush Hazarika. The Jagiroad MLA has a strong backing from Finance Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is known as most influential minister in the state cabinet after the chief minister.
On the other hand, Minister Atul Bora may be relieved from Agriculture department and he is likely to get the charge of Industry department.
Sonowal took oath as Assam chief minister along with his 10 Cabinet ministers on May 24, 2016 and this would be the first expansion of his ministry.