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First Haryana cabinet expansion likely on Wednesday

At least five newly-elected MLAs – three from BJP and two from Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) were expecting on Sunday that the Governor will call them to take oath as cabinet ministers but the swearing-in ceremony winded up immediately after Manohar Lal Khattar and Dushyant Chautala were sworn in as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively.

While one of the senior Haryana bureaucrats was continuously making announcements to the television crews to leave the VIP area, officials of Raj Bhawan and the state government were arranging chairs, vehicles for nearly a dozen of cabinet ministers. Arrangements were already in place and there were plans to induct at least five cabinet ministers. Then came the announcement that the cabinet ministers will take oath later.

There are speculations that the swearing-in ceremony was closed as the names of the Cabinet ministers were not decided. Some sources said the JJP had besides the Deputy Chief Minister’s post was also eyeing important departments like Home, Finance and Excise which was not acceptable to some BJP leaders who had already demanded a Deputy Chief Minister’s berth for senior leaders like Anil Vij who earlier was Health and Sports minister.

While none of the BJP and JJP leaders want to come on record on the issue of the allotment of portfolios, lobbying was already on to pocket the key departments.

Sources close to the state government said that the first expansion of the BJP-JJP cabinet can take place on Wednesday. Apart from the two JJP MLAs, at least one independent MLA from the seven who announced their support to BJP can get cabinet berths. Ram Kumar Gautam and Ishwar Singh of JJP can be inducted as cabinet ministers. It will be difficult for BJP to placate all seven Independents who were quick to announce their support to BJP when JJP was undecided.

The BJP-JJP coalition government will have a total of 13 ministers including the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister. If three berths are reserved for JJP and independent MLAs, the rest of the vacancies will be filled in by the BJP MLAs. While Anil Vij, Seema Trikha, Banwari Lal and Kanwar Pal Gujjar besides others can get cabinet ranks.

Khattar’s cabinet will comprise MLAs from all sections of the communities. While Seema Trikha will balance the gender equality, Anil Vij and Manohar Lal Khattar will represent the Punjabi community. Apart from Dushyant Chautala, any one or two of the Jat MLAs including Mahipal Dhanda, Praveen Dagar, Kamlesh Dhanda and JP Dala can get cabinet berths.

While Bishambhar Valmiki can be made a minister from the Dalit quota, Abhay Singh Yadav or Ram Kumar Kashyap will get a cabinet rank from the backward class quota. Gyan Chand Gupta and Kamal Gupta are in the race of Speaker and Deputy Speakers. Former Indian Hockey Team Captain Sandeep Singh who won the election from Pehowa is likely to get the Sports and Youth Affairs portfolio.

Those who will not get cabinet berths are likely to be accommodated as state ministers or the Chairman of boards and corporations.

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Source: indiatoday.in

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