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CM under pressure to expand cabinet


Dehradun, 3 July (IANS): Nearly a month after the death of Finance Minister Prakash Pant, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is under pressure to fill three cabinet berths which are lying vacant.
The cabinet expansion is also necessitated by the fact that the Chief Minister is keeping 42 portfolios including Finance, Excise, PWD, Home, Rural Development with himself.
In March 2017, when Rawat took oath as Chief Minister, only nine ministers were inducted into his council of ministers leaving two berths vacant. But after the death of Pant last month, one more berth fell vacant.
“It is a prerogative of the Chief Minister to expand his cabinet. But I think he would soon take a decision in this regard,” said a source close to Rawat.
Munna Singh Chauhan, an MLA from Vikasnagar constituency in Dehradun, is a top contender for Finance and Parliamentary Affairs — the two key portfolios held by Pant.
“Chauhan is a learned politician and a very senior MLA. I think he should be considered for the ministerial berth,” said a top BJP leader.
Former state BJP President Bishan Singh Chufal, an MLA from Didihat in Pithoragarh district, and Harbans Kapoor, former Speaker and MLA from Dehradun Cantt, are also very senior BJP leaders who are in contention, the party sources said.
However, the Chief Minister has been maintaining his guard on the entire issue.
During the three-day brief session of the Vidhan Sabha last week, the Chief Minister in an interim arrangement had given the portfolio of Parliamentary Affairs to state Rural Development Minister Madan Kaushik.
When contacted, state BJP President Ajay Bhatt said he feels the expansion will take place soon. The majority of the state party leaders agree that the expansion should happen.