Ranchi, Aug. 22: Governor Syed Ahmed today prodded state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat over the third and final expansion of the Hemant Soren cabinet, which has been delayed allegedly due to factional feud within the party.
The governor’s prod, however, has come as an unusual development as the cabinet expansion is the chief minister’s prerogative.
Ahmed apparently sought to know about the proposed expansion during an unscheduled meeting with Bhagat at Raj Bhavan this morning.
Though sources both in the Congress and Raj Bhavan termed the 30-minute talks as a courtesy call, they dropped enough hints to say that the cabinet expansion remained one of the main issues of discussion.
“Of course, during talks, he made a passing reference on early cabinet expansion. But, it was not the only issue. We are positive about an announcement within three days,” Bhagat insisted.
Sources within the Congress admitted that the governor’s prod was linked with the constitutional aspects regarding size and quorum of the cabinet as ministerial berths couldn’t be kept vacant for long.
Raj Bhavan sources attributed another reason behind the governor’s “casual reference” to this matter. Ahmed wants to go on a long vacation to his home state Maharashtra. But his plan had been postponed twice — first in July and then this month — for the government formation and cabinet expansion exercises as the Centre asked him to defer it till the final cabinet expansion.
Hemant Soren took oath on July 13 along with his two colleagues — Rajendra Prasad Singh (Congress) Annapurna Devi (RJD).
The second cabinet expansion took place on August 4 with four from the JMM, one each from the Congress and RJD taking oath.
But for the third expansion, the Congress adopted a delaying tactic.
Meanwhile finance minister Rajendra Prasad spoke to state Congress in-charge B.K. Hariprasad last night and requested him to clear the air soon. Hariprasad is busy with Karnataka Rajya Sabha elections where he is contesting as a Congress nominee. The final announcement on expansion is expected after the polls.
Congress’s Banna Gupta, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Chandra Shekhar Dubey and Mannan Mallik are front runners for the three cabinet berths.