Haryana’s first Cabinet expansion on Thursday

Chandigarh: After 17 days of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his deputy Dushyant Chautala taking oath of office and secrecy, the first Cabinet expansion will be held on Thursday, the government said here on Wednesday.

BJP leader Khattar took oath along with his alliance partner Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leader Chautala, the great grandson of former deputy prime minister late Devi Lal, on October 27.

Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya will administer the oath at a ceremony in Raj Bhawan here at 12.30 p.m., a government statement said.

Sources said the names for the Council of Ministers, comprising the BJP, JJP and the Independents, were cleared by the BJP high command on Sunday.

It is still unclear whether there will be an induction of full 12 ministers into the council of ministers or one or two vacancies will be filled later on.

Among the front-runners from the BJP for the ministerial berths are – six-time legislator Anil Vij, former Speaker Kanwar Pal, Seema Trikha, Mahipal Dhanda, Deepak Mangla and Ganshyam Saraf.

From the JJP, the prospective names for the cabinet are – Ram Kumar Gautam and Ishwar Singh. Independents Ranjit Chautala, son of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal, and Balraj Kundu may also join the cabinet.

The Cabinet can have a maximum of 14 ministers, including the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister.

While three ministerial berths were set to go to the JJP, the BJP would have nine or 10 members in the cabinet. A berth or two could go to the seven Independents supporting the government.

The BJP won 40 seats and was six short of a majority in the 90-member Assembly.

Besides the 10 JJP legislators, seven independent MLAs have also extended support to the BJP, helping it reach a tally of 57 seats.

The Congress won 31 seats, improving its tally from 19 in 2014.

Sources said the JJP, besides the Deputy Chief Minister’s post, has been eyeing crucial portfolios of Home, Finance and Excise and Taxation.

Dushyant parted ways with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in December 2018 after a bitter vertical split in the party and the Chautala family and formed the JJP.

Ahead of the induction of the council of ministers, both BJP and JJP leaders have worked on the formulation of a common minimum programme, admitted a BJP legislator.

Dushyant won 10 seats by wooing the youth for whom he promised 75 per cent reservation in private jobs and to reduce long distances that the unemployed have to travel for recruitment examinations.

The BJP came to power with a pledge to give an interest-free crop loan of up to Rs 3 lakh to farmers, besides setting up a Ministry of Youth Development and Self Employment and imparting skills to 25 lakh youth at an outlay of Rs 500 crore.