Major cabinet reshuffle: Himanta gets back education portfolio

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Sonowal expands ministry, two new ministers sworn in

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Jan 18: Himanta Biswa Sarma got back the education portfolio as Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal expanded his ministry on Saturday with the induction of two ministers of state with independent charge.

Sarma, in addition to education, will also hold his existing portfolios of health and family welfare and finance, public works department (PWD) and transformation and development.

In its earlier expansion, Sonowal has given the education portfolio to Siddhartha Bhattacharya on April 26, 2018. Bhattacharya will however, holds the portfolios of Guwahati development department, law and justice and co-operation.

The chief minister retained home, political, personnel, general administration, secretariat administration, implementation of Assam Accord, administrative reform and training, election, information and public relation, border areas development, sports and youth welfare, power, labour welfare and any other department not allotted to other ministers, the CMO spokesman said.

Siddhartha Bhattacharya, who earlier held the education department, continues to hold the Guwahati Development department, Law and Justice and Cooperation.

Sanjay Kishan and Jogen Mohan were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Jagdish Mukhi at a simple ceremony in the Darbar Hall of the Raj Bhavan here.

Both Kishan and Mohan are first time BJP MLAs and represent Tinsukia and Mahmora assembly constituencies respectively.

Kishan and Mohan replaced Pallab Lochan Das, from the tea community, and Tapan Gogoi, an Ahom, who were elected to the Lok Sabha from Tezpur and Jorhat parliamentary constituencies respectively.

With this, the strength of the Sonowal ministry has increased to 18, including the chief minister, with 12 from the BJP and three each from the alliance partners Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodo People’s Front (BPF).

Kishan who hails from the tea tribe community, was given independent charge of tea tribe welfare, and labour welfare.

Bhavesh Kalita will be the minister of state for education in addition to his irrigation portfolio (independent charge).

Kalita has been relieved from revenue and disaster management department, which was given to newly inducted minister Jogen Mohan. Mohan will also be the minister of state for PWD.

Minister of state Pijush Hazarika has been given independent charge of urban development including town and country planning in addition to the departments of health and family welfare.

The portfolios of the other ministers of the Sonowal cabinet remained unchanged, the sources added.

Kishan told reporters after the swearing-in that he was grateful to the chief minister for entrusting him with the responsibility.

“I will remain committed to serve all communities of the state and help the chief minister in making Assam strong and taking it to a global platform”, he said.

Referring to the tea community to which he belongs, Kishan said, “My home is still in the line quarter of Telaghat tea estate of Tinsukia and the community is still backward.  After the BJP came to power, many schemes have been implemented for the tea tribes but a lot still needs to be done.”

Mohan said he is grateful for the confidence that the chief minister has reposed in him by appointing him as a minister.

“I will try to fulfil the duties of the ministry that will be allocated to me and ensure that the schemes initiated are implemented to benefit all communities of the state,” Mohan said.

Among those present on the occasion were the chief minister, finance and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, parliamentary affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, culture minister Naba Kumar Doley, Pradesh BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and MPs Queen Oja and Kamakhya Prasad Tasa.

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