The first expansion of the Cabinet of the 14th Legislative Assembly in Haryana will take place tomorrow, 14 November. Before the ministers take the oath of office and secrecy, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has invited BJP MLAs and all the five Independent MLAs to dinner. Speculation as to who would be in or out and how those kept out would react had been rife since yesterday when on Tuesday five independent MLAs held a meeting in Delhi alone.
At 12.30 PM, Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya will administer the oath to the ministers at Raj Bhavan. For this, preparations have started in Raj Bhavan.
Independent Haryana MLAs want to meet Shah
Independent MLAs sought time to meet Home Minister and BJP national president Amit Shah. But he could not spare time for them. Shah had got a dinner invitation with the chief minister who will talk to these MLAs. The BJP has taken the support of these MLAs along with the JJP to form the State government.
Earlier on Tuesday morning at his residence, Chief Minister Khattar and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala held a discussion on the expansion of the Cabinet for about one and a half hours. The JJP has asked for 10-12 posts, including a couple of big ones.
Chautala, emerging from the chief minister’s residence after the meeting, said that the Cabinet would be expanded in 48 hours. On 27 October, the chief minister and deputy chief minister had taken the oath of office and secrecy.
Ranjit Singh to be inducted?
Independent legislators became active after Chautala left the chief minister’s residence at around 11 AM and spoke about Cabinet expansion. Discussions are on to nominate Ranjit Singh Chautala, MLA from Rania, out of seven independents, while all the MLAs have supported the BJP. Sources say this was the topic of discussion between the five MLAs in Delhi Haryana Niwas where their deliberations went on till late evening. This meeting of independents is being seen as a strategy to pressure the BJP.
Independent MLAs Balraj Kundu, Randhir Golan, Nayanpal Rawat, Somveer Sangwan and Dharampal Gondar were among those who attended the meeting. If Ranjit Singh is made a minister, these independent MLAs can open a front against the government or they may form a new faction.
When Khattar shared details with RSS
After meeting Dushyant, the chief minister shared the details of the talks with senior leaders of the Sangh and the BJP. The Sangh then put its foot down. It said big departments like finance have to be with the BJP. State president Subhash Barala, organisation secretary Suresh Bhatt and Sanjay Bhatia were present in the meeting.
Distribution of portfolios initially proved a tricky proposition when the JJP demanded the most important portfolios like finance, agriculture, town planning, industry, excise and taxation while the BJP was not in favour of giving away finance and industry. Now the JJP has agreed to leave finance and industry.
In the expansion of the Cabinet, both BJP and JJP will also focus on regional and caste equations, as the BJP has suffered significant losses in its stronghold GT belt especially in this election. In addition, it will also give priority to those areas where it has got the votes. Sources say that while some MLAs expect a windfall in this equation, some may be disappointed.
Out of 90 MLAs, 14 MLAs including the chief minister and deputy chief minister can be made ministers. There can be 12 ministers other than the chief minister and his deputy. Independents are pressuring to be made ministers so that if not ministers, they can at least get the post of chairman.