A 10-member cabinet, including two ministers each from alliance partners Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), is likely to take oath along with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday afternoon. With AGP driving a hard bargain and demanding three berths instead of two, talks were on till late Monday night.
Former Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma is also likely to take oath. Among the MLAs who walked out of Congress with him, Pallab Lochan Das, who won from Rangapara, may be included in the cabinet. Of nine MLAs who had deserted the Congress after Sarma’s “rebellion”, six had fought the elections — all of them won.
A source said: “People who have worked their way up in the party would have to be accommodated; there are also people the RSS wants in the cabinet. Despite that, one of five (ministers from BJP) is a good strike rate for Himanta, if it happens. What may additionally work for him (Das) is that he is a tea garden face.”
The swearing-in ceremony is being planned as the BJP’s show of strength following its first election victory in the Northeast. The event at Khanapara will see a turnout of 1 lakh people, local BJP leaders said. It will be attended by PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah among many senior party leaders.
Pramila Rani Brahma of the BPF, a six-time MLA from Kokrajhar East, is almost certain to be inducted into the cabinet. The second slot for the party is likely to go to Rihon Daimary, although the name of former transport minister Chandan Brahma is also doing the rounds.
Among other BJP names doing the rounds are Ranjit Datta, Ranjit Dass, Naba Dolay, Parimal Shukla Baidya and Prasanta Phukan. There is also speculation that Dass may be made the Speaker and not a minister.
Sources said the BJP and the AGP have agreed on two names from AGP — that of party president Atul Bora and former MP Keshab Mahanta. The AGP, however, is pushing for a third berth on the ground that having won 14 seats, it should get a better deal than BPF, which won 12. It is pushing for inclusion of Phanibhusan Chowdhury but the BJP is reportedly not very willing.