Cabinet expansion put off
Chief minister Hemant Soren, who on Thursday morning met governor Droupadi Murmu over the proposed cabinet expansion and swearing-in of new ministers on Friday afternoon at Raj Bhavan, did a U-turn in the evening when he met Murmu again and requested her to postpone the ceremony for now.
Hemant ascribed putting off the cabinet expansion to the massacre of seven men in West Singhbhum.
No new date for the ceremony has been given so far.
In the morning, Hemant told the media that he had met the governor on the cabinet expansion. In the evening, emerging out of Raj Bhavan after his second meeting with the governor, he said the ceremony had been postponed.
“In the morning I had met the honourable governor about cabinet expansion and she had fixed Friday 1pm for oath-taking. But then I realised that at a time when seven people were murdered in West Singhbhum district, an oath-taking ceremony in a hurry won’t be good. The incident has left us in deep anguish. That’s why I met the governor again in the evening and requested her to defer the oath-taking ceremony,” the chief minister said.
An insider said Hemant “turned emotional” after meeting the families of the victims at the village in West Singhbhum district earlier in the day and therefore decided not to hold the swearing-in on Friday.
“There is no pull, no pressure,” the source said.
But top sources in the Congress thundered that they had vetoed the oath-taking ceremony. A senior Congress leader, who spoke under cover of anonymity, said the chief minister had met the governor and even fixed the schedule of the ceremony without consulting his alliance partners.
“The Congress won’t settle for less than five ministerial berths. The JMM is giving us only four. Our central leadership had categorically conveyed to the CM that the Congress will not be a part of oath-taking ceremony,” the Congress leader said.
Mandar MLA Bandhu Tirkey, who was expelled from the JVM this week, and the JVM’s Poreyahat MLA Pradeep Yadav met Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at 10 Janpath in Delhi on Thursday evening.
Both the MLAs were opposed to JVM chief Babulal Marandi’s alleged intention to merge with the BJP.
If Tirkey and Yadav join the Congress, they may angle for ministerial berths, insiders said.
BJP spokesperson Pratul Nath Shahdeo said the chief minister was being arm-twisted by the Congress. “He is giving lame excuses. If he was so moved over the mayhem at West Singhbhum, why did he visit the JSCA stadium on Wednesday to inaugurate the gymnasium? Things are not going well in the ruling alliance and the Congress has started showing its true colours,” Shahdeo said.