GUWAHATI, April 26 - The long-awaited expansion of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led ministry finally took place today with Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi administering the oath of office and secrecy to seven new ministers during a swearing-in ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan here.
Of the seven new ministers, four have been appointed as Cabinet ministers and the remaining three as ministers of state with independent charge.
Siddhartha Bhattacharya, Phani Bhusan Choudhury, Sum Ronghang and Chandan Brahma have been inducted into the Council of Ministers as Cabinet ministers, while Bhabesh Kalita, Pijush Hazarika and Topon Kumar Gogoi as ministers of state.
The Chief Minister also carried out a comprehensive reshuffle of portfolios of the ministers along with allocation of departments to the new entrants. (See box for details.)
With this expansion the strength of the Council of Ministers of the BJP-led government in the State rose to 18. The State ministry can have a maximum strength of 19. After today�s expansion, only one slot remains vacant.
While five of the new entrants � Bhattacharya, Ronghang, Kalita, Hazarika and Gogoi � are from the BJP, Choudhury is from the AGP and Brahma from the BPF.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, his ministerial colleagues, advisors, MLAs, senior government officers and a host of other dignitaries were present during the swearing-in ceremony.
Brahma took the oath in Bodo language, while the other six took their oath in Assamese.
Brahma was the first to be sworn in, followed by Choudhury, Bhattacharya and Ronghang. Among the ministers of state, the first to be sworn in was Kalita, followed by Hazarika and Gogoi.
Later, speaking to reporters Bhattacharya said that assuming ministerial position means having additional responsibilities and he will work hard to fulfil the duties assigned to him.
�I will make all efforts to be of service to all sections of the society,� said Brahma.
Choudhury said that he was a minister earlier as well and will fulfil all task assigned to him in his role as a minister once again.
�I joined politics to serve the people. And as a minister I will serve the people and our State,� said Ronghang.
Meanwhile, rebellion seems to have flared out among some ruling party legislators who were not able to make it into the list of new ministers.
Dibrugarh MLA Prasanta Phukan resigned from the post of chairman of the AMCH Management Committee and also from a number of party positions.
Reports have come about protests by BJP workers from places like Morigaon and Sonai.