The AICC has given final approval to Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi to reshuffle his council of ministers and proposed to drop at least eight Cabinet ministers who could not defend their Assembly segment in the LS elections.
Disclosing that the AICC had fixed up an yardstick to gauge the performance of the Cabinet ministers in the LS elections to retain or drop the ministers, Congress insiders told this newspaper that eight ministers — Pradyut Borodoloi, Prithwi Manjhi Pranati Phukan, Akon Bora, Rajib Lochan Pegu, Nilmani Sen Deka, Tanka Bahadur Roy and Gautam Roy — who lost their Assembly seats in the Lok Sabha elections, may lose their place in the Gogoi Cabinet. Indicating that new ministers will be administered oath next week, sources said that Assam governor P.B. Acharaya will be available in the state after January 19 only. There were only six Cabinet ministers who could ensure lead for the party in the LS elections, sources said adding that the AICC has approved the names of Etwa Munda, Bismita Gogoi, Sarat Barkatoky, Bhumidhar Barman, Chandan Sarkar, Girinda Mallik, Sumitra Patir and Sukur Ali for ministerial berth.
Pointing out that the AICC has decided to ignore the legislators who were pro-actively involved in the anti-Gogoi campaign, sources in the Congress party, however, admitted that in selection of ministers the formula of performance was not taken into consideration.
Informing that Sukur Ali from Barpeta district was the only Congress legislator who could retain his victory margin, sources said that Sarat Barkatoky, where BJP got a lead on Congress candidate by a margin of more than 30000 votes in Lok Sabha elections, has been given a place in the proposed new cabinet with senior most Congress legislator Bhumidhar Barman. Sources in the AICC also admitted that Mr Gogoi had some reservation on proposed list but was over ruled by the AICC. Clarifying that four vacancies will remain their in the Gogoi cabinet, sources said that party has decided to fill up those vacancies after local municipal and town committees elections in the state. Apart from performance, the AICC has also taken ethnic, caste and religious equations into the consideration while selecting the new ministers, Congress party sources said.