Protests, Bandh In Assam Over Denial Of Ministerial Berths To Lawmakers

A group of nine organisations, including Jatiya Aikya Mancha, All Tiwa Students' Union, Koch-Rajbongshi Students' Union and Chutiya Jati Sanmilan, enforced a 12-hour shutdown on Friday to protest the non-inclusion of BJP's Ramakanta Deuri

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Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal added seven new ministers to his cabinet.


Assam:  A day after Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expanded his ministry with the addition of seven new ministers, the first since the NDA came to power in the state in 2016, some of the legislators protested to express their displeasure over being included in his cabinet. The expansion triggered unrest within the BJP as well.

A group of nine organisations, including Jatiya Aikya Mancha, All Tiwa Students' Union, Koch-Rajbongshi Students' Union and Chutiya Jati Sanmilan, enforced a 12-hour shutdown on Friday to protest the non-inclusion of BJP's Ramakanta Deuri, who is the lawmaker from the Morigaon Assembly seat.

The lone Muslim BJP lawmaker in Assam, Aminul Haque Laskar, also felt that Mr Sonowal should have considered a Muslim minister in the ministry when Muslims constitute over 30 per cent of the population in the state.

"The Assam ministry has representation from all communities barring the Muslims who make 34 per cent of the population so we were hoping that I would get a chance, but when it didn't happen, people got upset. They say this isn't Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, but I have no regrets. I trust the chief minister and when he thinks the time right, I am sure he will give me an opportunity," Laskar told NDTV.

Three times BJP lawmaker from Dibrugarh constituency Prasanta Phukan resigned from two important posts he was holding till Thursday. He was the president of the special committee of the BJP formed for the upcoming Panchayat elections, as well as the chairman of the governing body of the Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh.

"I am very upset. I have been with BJP for 18 years and a three-time lawmaker. All new people who came to the party are getting ministerial berths, but foot soldiers like me are being overlooked. So I have resigned from some key committees," Mr Phukan told NDTV from Dibrugarh.

Among the seven new ministers, four are new cabinet ministers -- BJP's Siddhartha Bhattacharya, Sum Ronghang; Asom Gana Parishad's Phani Bhusan Choudhury; and Chandan Brahma of the Bodoland People's Front.

Among the three new ministers of state, Bhabesh Kalita, Topon Kumar Gogoi and Pijush Hazarika are all from the BJP.

Even the Moran and Muttock communities, who dominate in the Upper Assam region, are upset as there is no one from their community in the 18-member Sarbananda ministry.

While Assam can have maximum 19 ministers, the one only slot left, which would be filled later, might go to a woman legislator, BJP sources added.


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