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Cabinet expansion issue lays bare Gogoi’s priority flip–flop

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, December 31: The act of filling up Cabinet portfolios when they are vacated due to resigtion or expulsion of some ministers  is a priori. However, for the Tarun Gogoi government in Assam it is a priori with the least priority over any other matters, mostly party matters and not of the government. The repeated flip–flops on the part of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi government when it comes to the issue of expansion of the ministry bears testimony to this fact.

After repeated deferment of the much–needed Cabinet expansion, the last words the Chief Minister said were that he would ‘certainly shuffle his ministry in the first week of January, 2015’. However, as things seem as of now, the Chief Minister may go for yet another deferment  of Cabinet expansion. However, no hint from the Chief Minister has yet been received on this matter.

The Congress is going to hold what it says ‘Pratara Birodhi Divas’ in Guwahati in a big way on January 10, 2015. While Assam observer of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), CP Joshi, will attend the function, AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi’s confirmation to attend the rally is still awaited. The ruling party in Assam is going to hold the ‘Pratara Birodhi Divas’ in a big way so as let the people of the state know the volte–face which the BJP has done on a number of issues like big dam, the  India–Bangladesh Land Swap Deal, visa regime with Bangladesh  etc. The BJP was against big dams in Assam and the move to hand over Assam land to Bangladesh before the last Lok Sabha elections. In fact, such issues were exploited to the fullest extent by the party during the campaign in the run–up to the last Lok Sabha elections.

Meanwhile, talking to The Sentinel today Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Anjan Dutta said: “I met Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi last night and requested him not to expand his ministry in the first week of January as announced by him earlier. I requested him to go for the Cabinet shuffling after January 10 when the party will observe the day in a big way as the ‘Pratara Birodhi Divas’. Of course, it is the Chief Minister’s prerogative. Everything depends on him. I’ve just conveyed to him my view. The BJP leaders sweet–talked the Assam voters before the last Lok Sabha polls that they would oppose big dams and handing over of Assam land to Bangladesh tooth and il. However, after coming to power at the Centre, they did a volte–face. We will unmask the party’s deception to the people of Assam at the rally. ”

Over the past four months the Chief Minister continued to push the much–needed Cabinet expansion on the back burner, mainly on the interest of the party, as though for him smooth governce that has much to do for the wellbeing of the people of the state is of less important than party affairs. The people of the state have been facing untold suffering  for the past few months as the Chief Minister resorted to overburden a number of his Cabinet colleagues, who themselves proved failure in their respective departments, by giving them the responsibilities of some other departments.

If the Chief Minister puts the Cabinet expansion on the back burner yet again, the expansion, in all likelihood, will not be possible before the Magh Bihu, beginning from January 13. Now, will the Chief Minister go for yet another deferment of the Cabinet expansion? As the APCC president said, it is the prerogative of the Chief Minister and everything depends on him. Cannot the plight of the people of the state because of inefficient ministers heading a number of important departments dictate him? One is determined to do something good and just only when one is pricked by one’s conscience.

Meanwhile,  on behalf of APCC president Anjan Dutta an AGP team submitted a memorandum to the Governor yesterday. It was addressed to the President on India demanding a high–level inquiry by the Centre into the alleged nexus between the BJP and the NDFB(S). The delegation comprises Ripun Bora, Apurba Kumar Bhattacharjee, Hiranya Bhuyan, Jayshree Bujarbaruah, Basanti Boro, Chandan Baruah, Majanur Rahman and others.

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Ankur Kalita

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