By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, January 27: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has distributed portfolios to the newly inducted 14 ministers, but has kept with himself as many as 19 departments.
However, some of the departments which are with the Chief Minister are likely to be given to the four other ministers who will be inducted after the civic polls next month.
Before the resigtion of Himanta Biswa Sarma from the council of ministers, Gogoi was holding additiol charge of 10 departments – Home, Political, Fince, Personnel, GAD, Secretariat administration, Election, Passport, IT and Science and Technology.
While distributing portfolios to the 14 ministers yesterday, the Chief Minister kept 9 more departments with himself – Social Welfare, Industry & Commerce, Power, Labour & Employment, Urban Development, Guwahati Development, Public Enterprises, Information & Public Relations and Printing & Stationery.
The fact that Gogoi has kept four berths in his ministry vacant till the civic polls has set tongues wagging in political quarters. One view is that the Chief Minister is wary of another revolt in the party ahead of next year’s Assembly elections and is therefore treading cautiously. Others hold that Gogoi will handpick the four remaining ministers on the basis of the civic polls results.
However, with the absence of four ministers and the Chief Minister overburdening himself by keeping 19 additiol departments, administrative work in the Secretariat has suffered, reports said.
Even while allocating the departments to his new ministers, Gogoi seemingly did not apply the ‘efficiency’ yardstick. No wonder, zrul Islam and Khor Singh Engti retained their departments despite both being miserable failures in their earlier stints.
Though Rockybul Hussain had to part with the Forest & Environment department, the general impression is that his failure to prevent rhino poaching was not a factor in his removal. Rather, he has been well compensated with another heavyweight department like Agriculture.
Chandan Sarkar, a first–time minister, has been given the important Irrigation department. The projects in the department have been plagued by time and cost over–runs. Only 30 per cent of the state’s agricultural land is under irrigation, while the completion of several projects have been delayed by 25 to 30 years.
Similarly, Sukur Ali, who represents the religious minority electorate of lower Assam in Tarun Gogoi’s cabinet, has been given Public Health Engineering, a department bedeviled with defunct projects.
The Chief Minister has this time divided the Welfare of Plain Tribes & Backward Classes (WPT&BC) into three departments, giving SC Welfare to Basanta Das, Tribal Welfare to Sumitra Patir and Backward Classes Welfare to Bismita Gogoi.
Elated on being inducted as a minister again, the seniormost member in the cabinet, Dr Bhumidhar Barman, assured that as Revenue minister, he will clear char areas of land grabbers. “My thrust will be on land reforms. I have been Revenue minister before, so it will not be difficult for me this time either,” he said.
Rockybul Hussain described his new assignments as a major challenge and invited “constructive suggestions” from the public.
The new Forest minister, Atuwa Munda, admitted that addressing the problem of rhino poaching will be a challenge and he will discuss with Kaziraga locals to devise an effective anti–poaching strategy.
The list of new ministers are:
1. Dr Bhumidhar Barman : Revenue & DM, Administrative Reforms & Training, Implementation of Assam Accord
2. Sarat Borkotoky : Education, Pension & Public Grievance
3. Ajanta Neog : PW (Roads & Building, NH), Planning & Development, Judicial, Legislative, Law
4. Dr. zrul Islam : Food, Civil Supplies & CA, Health & Family Welfare
5. Rockybul Hussain : Panchayat & Rural Development, Agriculture, Horticulture & Food Processing, Parliamentary Affairs.
6. Chandan Sarkar : Irrigation, Soil Conservation.
7. Khor Singh Engti : Animal Husbandry & Veteriry, Cooperation, Hill Areas.
8. Sukur Ali Ahmed : Public Health Engineering , Welfare of Minorities Development.
9. Ajit Singh : Transport, Excise, Sports & Youth Welfare.
10. Basanta Das : Fisheries, Water Resources, Scheduled Castes Welfare
11. Atuwa Munda : Environment & Forest, Tea Tribes Welfare
Ministers of State ( Independent Charge )
1. Sumitra Doley Patir : Tribal Welfare, Housing, Tourism
2. Girindra Mallik : Mines & Minerals, Jail, Border Areas
3. Bismita Gogoi : Cultural Affairs, Handloom, Textiles & Sericulture, Backward Classes Welfare