GUWAHATI, Nov 2 - An expansion and reshuffle of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led ministry is on the cards and likely to take place soon.
Sources in the ruling BJP said that the �green signal� has been received from the party�s Central leadership to undertake expansion of the ministry by inducting new faces.
�Expansion is going to happen. There are three vacant slots in the ministry and those have to be filled up. Directions have come from the high command to expand the ministry by inducting new members into it. Reshuffle of the portfolios of some of the serving ministers will also take place. The only question is regarding the exact timing of the expansion and reshuffle,� a senior State BJP office-bearer told The Assam Tribune.
He added that there are two sets of opinion within the party on the issue.
�On the one hand are some senior MLAs and ministerial aspirants. They want the inductions to take place immediately. On the other, there are voices within the party who favour completion of the ongoing organisational polls of the BJP before the ministry is expanded and reshuffled. The Chief Minister in consultation with the Central leadership will take the final call,� said the senior office-bearer.
He added, �So the expansion could happen in November itself or it could happen in December or early January.�
The Assam BJP�s organisational polls will get over by mid-December and a new state committee of the saffron party will be in place by then.
There is a likelihood that state BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, whose term will expire in December, may be inducted into the Council of Ministers and assigned some major portfolios.
Sources said that ethnic and linguistic considerations, besides the matter of giving representation to more women and different regions and districts of Assam, have to be taken into account while going for expansion of the ministry.
�There are various compulsions. A lot of factors have to be taken into account. It is not easy to accommodate the wishes of all aspirants. With the next State Assembly elections scheduled to take place around March-April 2021, the Sonowal government has only one-and-half year of its term left. So this will be the last expansion and reshuffle. That is why all the claimants are desperate to get on board and want it at the earliest possible,� said a BJP leader.
A few ruling party legislators have already made public statements calling for the ministry to be expanded without any further delay.
Sources added that only legislators of the BJP will be accommodated this time. There is no likelihood of induction of any new faces from the junior NDA constituents � AGP and BPF � in the ministry.
The State ministry can have a maximum of 19 members. There are currently 16 ministers, including the Chief Minister.
While the AGP and BPF have three ministers each, the remaining slots are with the BJP.
The strength of the Sonowal-led ministry had come down to 16 after two of its members � Pallab Lochan Das and Topon Kumar Gogoi � won the Lok Sabha polls held earlier this year and resigned from the Council of Ministers.