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Gogoi facing taugh task in ministry formation

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, May 21 � Picking his new team is proving to be a daunting task for Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, as he races to fix the criteria, amidst intense lobbying by his elected MLAs and ally.

The Chief Minister has, till the time of filing of this report, not met AICC general secretary in-charge Digvijay Singh, though he met Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, and other senior AICC leaders at Vir Bhumi, where he had gone to pay respect to late Rajiv Gandhi on the occasion of his death anniversary.

Rest of the day was spent meeting visitors including his partymen and well wishers. Among the prominent callers were AICC secretary Pervez Hashmi, Lok Sabha MP Paban Singh Ghatowar, and a delegation of BPF led by Chandan Brahma, among others.

�I am yet to meet Digvijay Singh, who is busy with party affairs in Uttar Pradesh. Even the first round of meeting has not been held,� Gogoi told newsmen this morning.

Sources said that the Chief Minister is expected to first meet Digvijay Singh to finalise the criteria for selection of the new council of ministers before a tentative list is drawn up. Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who was appointed observer for Assam is likely to be consulted on Sunday.

�We are first going to finalise the criteria and then prepare the list of ministers,� the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister is likely to call on Gandhi on Monday, when the list is expected to be submitted for approval, sources said.

Gogoi though may informally meet all senior UPA � II leaders on Sunday evening, when the Prime Minister is hosting a dinner for ruling coalition MPs to celebrate completion of two years of the Central Government.

Admitting that picking the new team is proving to be a challenging task, a senior Congress leader told this newspaper that the current line of thinking is to select the minister from third and fourth time MLAs, which in effect means that first and second timers would miss out.

With the number of MLAs short-listed, the focus would then shift on ensuring adequate representation to various groups and communities.

The race is also on to select the next Speaker. With Tanka Bahadur Rai reluctant to continue in the same post, choice is now on Abdul Muhib Majumdar, Dr Bhumidhar Barman, Prithibi Majhi and Pranati Phukan, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister is under pressure to give adequate representation to the tea and minority community. The Tea Cell of Assam Pradesh Congress has sought two ministers and two Parliamentary Secretary posts.

Talking to this newspaper, chairman of the Tea Cell, Bhogirath Karan said that the tea community has returned a highest number of 32 MLAs out of the total 36 seats in the tea- dominated areas.

Meanwhile, the BPF team is a nervous lot, as the Congress Party is playing hard ball and reluctant to share more than one ministerial berth. A delegation of BPF that included Biswajeet Daimary and Rihan Daimary tried to impress Gogoi to spare two ministerial berths.

Congress sources said that BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary has suggested Emmanuel Mosahary, a first-time MLA elected from Tamulpur for inclusion in the council of ministers.

Though majority of the sitting ministers are tipped to be retained, another criteria being seriously considered is the age factor. Some of the senior MLAs are likely to be dropped and given some other assignments, said sources.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister hinted that not all of his sitting ministers would be continued. �Naturally I cannot retain all my sitting ministers,� he added.

Factors like past performance, adequate district-wise representation besides women, youth and various communities would be kept in mind, Gogoi said, when pressed further.

The Chief Minister said the joint petition of the chief ministers of the North Eastern States regarding increasing the size of the council of ministers to 25 per cent of the Assembly strength from 15 per cent, is still pending with the Centre.

�We are also planning to appoint principal parliamentary secretaries in the line of Punjab and Haryana,� he said.

Meanwhile, anxious MLAs including former ministers accompanied by their supporters have pitched camps in the two State Guesthouses lobbying for ministerial berths.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)

Gogoi facing taugh task in ministry formation

NEW DELHI, May 21 � Picking his new team is proving to be a daunting task for Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, as he races to fix the criteria, amidst intense lobbying by his elected MLAs and ally.

The Chief Minister has, till the time of filing of this report, not met AICC general secretary in-charge Digvijay Singh, though he met Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, and other senior AICC leaders at Vir Bhumi, where he had gone to pay respect to late Rajiv Gandhi on the occasion of his death anniversary.

Rest of the day was spent meeting visitors including his partymen and well wishers. Among the prominent callers were AICC secretary Pervez Hashmi, Lok Sabha MP Paban Singh Ghatowar, and a delegation of BPF led by Chandan Brahma, among others.

�I am yet to meet Digvijay Singh, who is busy with party affairs in Uttar Pradesh. Even the first round of meeting has not been held,� Gogoi told newsmen this morning.

Sources said that the Chief Minister is expected to first meet Digvijay Singh to finalise the criteria for selection of the new council of ministers before a tentative list is drawn up. Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who was appointed observer for Assam is likely to be consulted on Sunday.

�We are first going to finalise the criteria and then prepare the list of ministers,� the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister is likely to call on Gandhi on Monday, when the list is expected to be submitted for approval, sources said.

Gogoi though may informally meet all senior UPA � II leaders on Sunday evening, when the Prime Minister is hosting a dinner for ruling coalition MPs to celebrate completion of two years of the Central Government.

Admitting that picking the new team is proving to be a challenging task, a senior Congress leader told this newspaper that the current line of thinking is to select the minister from third and fourth time MLAs, which in effect means that first and second timers would miss out.

With the number of MLAs short-listed, the focus would then shift on ensuring adequate representation to various groups and communities.

The race is also on to select the next Speaker. With Tanka Bahadur Rai reluctant to continue in the same post, choice is now on Abdul Muhib Majumdar, Dr Bhumidhar Barman, Prithibi Majhi and Pranati Phukan, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister is under pressure to give adequate representation to the tea and minority community. The Tea Cell of Assam Pradesh Congress has sought two ministers and two Parliamentary Secretary posts.

Talking to this newspaper, chairman of the Tea Cell, Bhogirath Karan said that the tea community has returned a highest number of 32 MLAs out of the total 36 seats in the tea- dominated areas.

Meanwhile, the BPF team is a nervous lot, as the Congress Party is playing hard ball and reluctant to share more than one ministerial berth. A delegation of BPF that included Biswajeet Daimary and Rihan Daimary tried to impress Gogoi to spare two ministerial berths.

Congress sources said that BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary has suggested Emmanuel Mosahary, a first-time MLA elected from Tamulpur for inclusion in the council of ministers.

Though majority of the sitting ministers are tipped to be retained, another criteria being seriously considered is the age factor. Some of the senior MLAs are likely to be dropped and given some other assignments, said sources.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister hinted that not all of his sitting ministers would be continued. �Naturally I cannot retain all my sitting ministers,� he added.

Factors like past performance, adequate district-wise representation besides women, youth and various communities would be kept in mind, Gogoi said, when pressed further.

The Chief Minister said the joint petition of the chief ministers of the North Eastern States regarding increasing the size of the council of ministers to 25 per cent of the Assembly strength from 15 per cent, is still pending with the Centre.

�We are also planning to appoint principal parliamentary secretaries in the line of Punjab and Haryana,� he said.

Meanwhile, anxious MLAs including former ministers accompanied by their supporters have pitched camps in the two State Guesthouses lobbying for ministerial berths.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)