The first expansion of the Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana cabinet will take place on Thursday, an official spokesman said. Khattar (65), who took oath as the chief minister for the second time on October 27, and Dushyant Chautala (31), who was sworn-in as his deputy, are the only two members of the present cabinet.
"Haryana Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the Haryana ministers at the Haryana Raj Bhawan on Thursday," the spokesman said on Wednesday.
The Haryana cabinet can have 14 members, including the chief minister and the deputy chief minister. The BJP and the Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) have factored out various permutations and combinations to give wider representation to all sections and regions of the state in the first expansion, sources said. The JJP is likely to get two ministerial berths and one or two Independents can also be accommodated in the expanded council of ministers. The BJP is likely to induct six ministers from its camp, they said.
Haryana's main opposition party Congress had criticised Khattar over the delay in inducting ministers, with its senior leader Randeep Singh Surjewala saying nearly three weeks have passed after the declaration of election results in Haryana, but the BJP-JJP are only "busy in fighting to secure maximum number of ministerial portfolios". The Haryana polls were held on October 21 and results declared on October 24.
The BJP had formed government in the state with the help of the JJP, headed by the great grandson of former deputy prime minister late Devi Lal. The seven Independents are also supporting the government. The saffron party had won 40 seats, the JJP 10 and the Congress 31 in the polls to the 90-members state assembly. The INLD and the Haryana Lokhit Party won one seat each.
On Tuesday, Chautala had discussed the cabinet expansion issue with the chief minister here. There was also a discussion on allotment of departments with the chief minister, Chautala had told reporters after meeting Khattar.
Frontrunners from the BJP for ministerial berths include six-time legislator Anil Vij, former speaker Kanwar Pal, Seema Trikha, Mahipal Dhanda, Deepak Mangla, Ganshyam Saraf, Banwari Lal and Kamal Gupta. Ram Kumar Gautam, Ishwar Singh or Anoop Dhanak are probables from the JJP and the Independents, who are likely to be inducted into the cabinet, are Ranjit Singh Chautala and Balraj Kundu.
The impasse in Maharashtra was believed to be one of the factors that delayed the cabinet expansion, which was to be held on Tuesday. Khattar had met Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi the expansion on Sunday. On Wednesday, all the seven Independent MLAs, who are supporting the BJP-JJP coalition, have been invited by Khattar for dinner.