The contentious ministerial berth-sharing talks in Congress-led United Democratic Front, which got a simple majority in the just-concluded assembly polls, remained inconclusive on Monday.
Congress legislative party leader, Oommen Chandy, will be sworn in as the Chief Minister on Wednesday. Leaders of major allies will also be sworn in along with the Chief Minister. The Muslim League, the largest ally with 20 seats (140 total), has elected its general secretary P K Kunhalikutty as its leader.
The internal and bilateral talks to form the cabinet gained momentum. With its reduced strength lead party Congress will have to do a major climb down before the ever-bargaining allies. Kerala Congress (Mani) with 9 seats had sought 4 ministerial berths. But the Congress is not willing to give more than two. Similarly the League has demanded at least five-six ministers. Besides them, it has to accommodate three parties with single MLA and JD (S) which has got two legislators.
With simple majority (four seats) and reduced strength (Cong could manage only 38 seats) tough days are ahead for the new CM. He has to tolerate pressures of allies_ any small desertions will affect his governance. Besides, he has to tackle a belligerent opposition under V S Achuthanandan. It will be a tightrope walk for Chandy.
Gogoi swearing-in on Wednesday
Tarun Gogoi, who will be sworn in as chief minister of Assam for the third time on Wednesday, could cost the Congress some berths with his commitment to carrying on ties with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).
The Congress won 78 seats in the recent polls, 14 more than the minimum number a party needs in the 126-member house to form a government. Having the luxury of a ‘problem of plenty’ has put the party in a dilemma over accommodating the BPF, which bagged 12 seats.
In 2006, the BPF helped Gogoi form the government for the second successive term.
The Congress’ has triggered speculations that the BPF will be sidelined. However, Gogoi is insisting on remaining with friends through thick and thin.
A senior Congress leader said, “We are under pressure to ensure every region in Assam is represented in the Gogoi cabinet, and leaving a few berths to the BPF could complicate matters.” Many party leaders, including state president Bhubaneswar Kalita, are said to be against giving ‘undue importance’ to the regional party.
(with inputs from Rahul Karmakar in Guwahati)