Khattar’s Delhi visit sparks cabinet expansion speculation

| | Chandigarh
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Khattar’s Delhi visit sparks cabinet expansion speculation

Friday, 08 November 2019 | MANOJ KUMAR | Chandigarh

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s visit to New Delhi has fuelled speculations that the cabinet berths in the State will be filled in couple of days.

Before leaving for Delhi, the Chief Minister had said that the cabinet expansion will take place "soon".

Over a week after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) forged an alliance with the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) and Khattar was sworn-in for a second term while Dushyant Chautala was inducted as Deputy Chief Minister, the constitution of the Cabinet continues to hang fire.

A source in the BJP said that Khattar and deputy chief minister Chautala would go for another round of talks in Delhi in the presence of the party top brass on Cabinet expansion and work distribution between the two partners.

Before meeting Chautala in New Delhi in the next couple of days to have a discussion on cabinet portfolios, Khattar is likely to meet senior BJP leaders including BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP working president Jagat Prakash Nadda and other senior party leaders to finalise the list of new cabinet berths in the newly formed coalition Government of the State.

Chautala is also likely to visit New Delhi to meet senior BJP leaders over cabinet berths soon, the source said, adding keeping in view the aspirations of the JJP and BJP MLAs, the BJP high command is taking the portfolio allotment very seriously.

After the formation of coalition government on October 27, the first round of discussion was held among senior BJP leaders like Shah, Nadda, in-charge of Haryana party affairs Anil Jain and Khattar but there was no consensus on the names.

“The JJP is eyeing top departments like Home, Finance, Excise and Agriculture which was not acceptable to some senior party leaders as JJP MLAs are first-timers and do not have any past experience to run the government. Anil Vij, who is a senior most BJP leader and won six assembly elections as well as Kanwar Pal Gujjar, a third time BJP MLA and former Vidhan Sabha Speaker also aspire for big departments,” a source pointed out.

Vij is looking for Finance or Home, while Gujjar who also refused to the post of Vidhan Sabha Speaker is also likely to get either Health or Agriculture.

Sources said there were plans to induct at least five cabinet ministers ahead of first Assembly session but it was postponed following the 'inappropriate' demand made by the coalition partner which was not acceptable to some senior BJP leaders.

BJP sources said modalities between the two partners had already been worked out amicably and there was no discordant note as far as sharing of departments was concerned. The announcement of cabinet berths is likely to announce in couple of days.

The state can have a maximum of 14 ministers. With Khattar as Chief Minister and Dushyant as Deputy Chief Minister, there is a vacancy for 12 ministers, of which two or three berths are likely go to the JJP.

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