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Arunachal ministers get portfolios

- Nabam Rebia elected Speaker, TN Thongdok his deputy

Itanagar, June 3: Congress legislators Nabam Rebia and Tenzin Norbu Thongdok were elected the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Arunachal Pradesh Assembly while nine ministers were allocated portfolios today.

Rebia, chief minister Nabam Tukiís elder brother and sole nominee for the post, took over charge from protem Speaker Kameng Dolo on the second day of the sixth state Assembly.

A former Rajya Sabha MP and a two-time MLA, Rebia was elected for a third consecutive term from Doimukh constituency in Papum Pare district unopposed. He was the government spokesperson in the earlier Tuki government.

Thongdok was elected Deputy Speaker after BJP candidate Tumke Bagra withdrew his nomination. Bagra extended his congratulations to Thongdok but expressed displeasure over the fact that both the Speaker and deputy Speaker were Congressmen.

The BJP had lobbied for the post saying that the state Assembly should follow the norm practised in Parliament and other Assemblies where the Deputy Speaker is usually from the Opposition parties.

Bagra said he withdrew his nomination knowing fully well that they did not have the numbers but was hoping that the Congress would allow the post to go to the Opposition.

The Congressí decision may have been fuelled by the fact that so far there are no cabinet ministers from West Kameng district from where Thongdok hails.

Besides, nine Congress MLAs who were given ministerial berths on June 1, were allocated their portfolios. Two posts are still vacant.

Congress MLA Gojen Gadiís loyalty towards Tuki paid off with him being allocated the much sought-after public works department portfolio.

Gadi, Kumar Waii and Kalikho Pul, who were elevated as ministers in the previous Tuki government at the cost of Chowna Mein, former chief minister Jarbom Gamlinís brother Jarkar and Atum Welly, have also been inducted as ministers in Tukiís second stint. While Waii has been awarded the rural works department, Pul will handle social justice, tribal affairs, women and child development, health and family welfare and parliamentary affairs.

Mein, who was the finance minister in the previous government, is in charge of agriculture and horticulture departments as well as animal husbandry and dairy development. Tuki has not allocated the finance portfolio to anyone yet. Tapang Taloh has been allocated the education portfolio.

Kamlung Mossang retains his previous portfolio of food and civil supplies along with mines and water resource development.

Pema Khandu, son of former chief minister Dorjee Khandu, retains tourism portfolio along with urban development department.

Takam Pario, brother of Former Congress MP Takam Sanjoy, has public health engineering and water supply portfolios. Nacho legislator Tanga Byaling has been awarded the home portfolio, along with power and non-conventional energy resource.

The berths of two more ministers are still vacant.

A source said former Speaker Wanglin Lowangdong could be given a berth to represent Tirap district.

The chief minister has reportedly got calls from Adi Baane Kebang, the apex organisation of Adi community, that besides Taloh, one more minister from the community should be inducted into the government.

Tuki has a difficult task ahead, filling up the two remaining posts.