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Soren may expand Jharkhand cabinet after two days

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Ranchi, Jan 13 (IANS) Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren is likely to expand his cabinet as kharmas, an inauspicious period in Hindu calender, ends in two days.

Soren, in Delhi to take part in the non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Chief Ministers’ meeting with Sonia Gandhi, is likely to discuss cabinet expansion with her as well as other senior Congress leaders. He may return to Ranchi on Tuesday.

Soren took oath on December 29 along with three Ministers — two from the Congress and one from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). No Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MLA was made Minister. Fourteen days after the swearing in, the portfolios are yet to be allocated.

According to sources, induction of more Ministers and portfolio distribution are not proving easy for Soren. While the Congress wants five ministries, the JMM is willing to give only four. The Congress also wants important ministries, like health, education and rural development.

"A detailed discussion is likely with senior Congress leaders in Delhi on cabinet expansion and portfolio distribution," a JMM source told IANS.

Soren has to deal with the Congress demands, meet the aspirations of his own party legislators as well as balance the caste factor. Also, there are over half a dozen JMM legislators who have won the Assembly polls four-five times and are aspiring to be in the ministry.

In view of the likely cabinet expansion, the Congress legislative party leader, Ministers and 16 legislators are camping in Delhi. These Ministers are lobbying for ‘good’ portfolios.

The JMM, the Congress and the RJD won 30, 16 and 1 seat, respectively, in the recent Assembly polls.