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Gogoi expands cabinet, inducts two ministers

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Tuesday expanded his cabinet by inducting two former ministers Gautam Roy and Siddeque Ahmed, taking the total ministerial strength to 16.

Governor P B Acharya administered the oath of office and secrecy to the two ministers at the Raj Bhawan here in a simple ceremony attended by the Chief Minister, his cabinet colleagues and several members of the state legislature.

The Chief Minister was yet to allot portfolios to the newly inducted ministers of Cabinet rank, both hailing from the state’s Barak Valley.

This is the second time during the year that Gogoi, faced with dissidence from a section of the Congress during his third consecutive term, made changes in his cabinet with the first reshuffle taking place in January.

Roy, who was the Public Health and Engineering Department Minister till last year, had resigned from the cabinet along with the other ministers, prior to the January reshuffle to enable the Chief Minister to reconstitute his cabinet.

Roy, who represents Katlicherra assembly constituency in Barak Valley’s Hailakandi district, has served as ministers in all the three terms of Congress rule led by Tarun Gogoi since 2001 and also earlier in the Hiteshwar Saikia government.

Siddeque, who served as the Border Areas Development and Cooperation Minister in the current term, was dropped by Gogoi last year after he sided with the dissidents, led by former minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who recently left the party to join the BJP.

Siddeque represents Karimganj (South) assembly constituency.

The Assam cabinet can have a a maximum strength of 19, including the Chief Minister.

Congress has currently a total strength of 78 MLAs in the 126-member state assembly.