Guwahati(Web Team): Overcoming some last-minute hiccups orchestrated by dissidents, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi will have the first ministry reshuffle in his three successive terms since 2001 on Friday when 11 cabinet ministers and three ministers of state will be sworn in by governor PB Acharya at the Raj Bhavan here.
Gogoi, who opted for forming a new ministry, on Monday got all 14 ministers in his council of ministers resign en masse. He will retain six of his old ministers but drop the rest eight as they failed to give the winning margin to party candidates in their respective constituencies in the last Lok Sabha election.
Four berths in the 18-member ministry, excluding that of the chief minister, will be filled up after the civic polls next month.
The biggest change in the portfolios will be in case of former forest minister Rockybul Hessain, who has been retained in the ministry, but is likely to be stripped of the forest department in the wake of severe flak faced by the government for unabated rhino poaching.
Hussain will retain his earlier panchayat and rural development department portfolio and is also likely to be given the agriculture department in place of Nilamani Sen Deka, who is being dropped from the ministry.
Gogoi, who already holds the home and finance portfolios, is also likely to keep the forest portfolio.It needs mention here that the Chief Minister in his bid to reshuffle his Ministry dropped Prithivi Majhi, Gautam Roy, Tanka Bahadur Rai, Pradyut Bordoloi, Nilamani Sen Deka, Pranati Phukan, Akan Bora and Rajiv Lochan Pegu from his Cabinet.
He decided to form his new Ministry with Dr Bhumidhar Barman, Sarat Barkotoky, Rockybul Hussain, Dr Nazrul Islam, Ajanta Neog, Giridnra Mallik, Chandan Sarkar, Sukur Ali, Bismita Gogoi, Sumitra Patir, Atowa Munda, Ajit Singh and Basanta Das.
Ajanta Neog is likely to retain PWD department, while health may go either to Nazrul Islam or Bhumidhar Barman, who had been in charge of the department in his earlier stint in the ministry in Gogoi’s first term. Another old warhorse, Sarat Borkotoky, may be given either education or power and industry.
A source said if Borkotoky is given education department, Gogoi is likely to keep power and industry to himself. These two departments were with Pradyut Bordoloi, who is also being dropped.
The source said two ministers of state in the earlier ministry, Ajit Singh and Basanta Das, will be elevated to the rank of cabinet ministers, while the three of the eight new faces — Sumitra Patir, Bismita Gogoi and Girindra Mullick — will get a minister of state berth with independent charge. Singh is likely to get transport department.
Even as Gogoi and PCC president Anjan Dutta were finalizing the new ministry, the dissidents made a last- ditch attempt to scuttle the reshuffle and approached the party high command saying that the age of two MLAs (Bhumidhar Barman and Sarat Borkotoy), who have been selected for the new ministry, was above 70 and should not be included in the ministry.
A source said Rahul Gandhi sought clarification on these two names but finally the state PCC leadership prevailed on Rahul and got the two names approved.