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Himanta Biswa Sarma expands cabinet, reshuffles portfolios

Assam chief minister inducts two new ministers
Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Himanta Biswa Sarma.
File photo

PTI   |   Guwahati   |   Published 10.06.22, 12:38 AM

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Thursday inducted two new ministers and carried out a major reshuffle of his cabinet with several of the old guard losing some important portfolios.

 The expansion was the first by Sarma since he assumed the office of chief minister about 13 months ago.

 BJP MLAs Jayanta Malla Baruah, formerly of the Congress and Nandita Gorlosa, a first-time saffron party lawmaker, who took oath during the day have been assigned cabinet portfolios by recalibrating the portfolio allotments among the existing ministers.

Baruah will be in charge of public health engineering, skill, employment and entrepreneurship and tourism, while Gorlosa will look after power, cooperation, mines and minerals and indigenous and tribal faith and cultural departments, officials said.

Sarma himself continues to hold home, personnel, public works and other non-allotted departments without any change as per his official communique to Governor Jagdish Mukhi on the change of portfolios.

 Senior minister Chandra Mohan Patowary has been stripped of some crucial ministries like transport, industries and commerce and skill employment and entrepreneurship, but retained Act East policy affairs, minorities welfare, environment and forest.

  His colleague Ranjeet Kumar Kumar Dass has lost public health engineering and secretariat administration portfolios, but retained food and civil supplies and consumer affairs, panchayat and rural development and general administration, the communique said.

 Ajanta Neog has been retained as finance minister, but social welfare has been removed from her domain. Women and child development will also be her new portfolio.

 The cooperation department has been taken away from ally AGP chief Atul Bora, but all his other offices in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and veterinary, border area development and Assam Accord implementation departments are untouched, it said.

Senior BJP leader Parimal Suklabaidya has been removed from the charge of environment and forest department but he retains fisheries and excise, while the transport portfolio has been added to his kitty.

Ranoj Pegu will continue to hold charge of education, while his new department will be indigenous and tribal faith and culture (directorates of library and museum). His old portfolio welfare of plain tribes and backward classes has been rechristened as tribal welfare department.

Ashok Singhal will hold housing and urban affairs and irrigation instead of Guwahati development, urban development including town and country planning and irrigation, the communique said.

Another minister Jogen Mohan has been moved out of the mines and minerals departmen and he will now be in charge of revenue and disaster management and hills area development.

Sarma's close aide Pijush Hazarika has been awarded with the new social justice and empowerment department, while retaining all his old portfolios of water resources, information and public relations and parliament affairs.

Bimal Bora lost three of the four departments that he was in charge of but received a new one. He was removed from sports and youth welfare, power and tourism and allotted industries, commerce and public enterprises, it said.

There has been no change in the portfolios of Urkhao Gwra Brahma who continues to be minister for handloom and textile, soil conservation and Bodoland welfare, Keshab Mahanta the minister for health and family welfare, medical education and research, science and technology and information technology and Sanjoy Kishan who holds charge of welfare of tea tribes and labour welfare, the communique added.

Sarma took over as chief minister of Assam on May 10 last year after BJP returned to power in the assembly elections for the second consecutive term.

With the two new inductees, the BJP-led Assam government at present has 16 cabinet ministers and there is no one as minister of state.

According to  the 91st amendment of the Constitution in 2003, the total number of ministers, including the chief minister, in a state should not exceed 15 per cent of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly. As Assam Assembly has a strength of 126 MLAs, a maximum of 19 ministers can function at a time.

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