Choosing ministers will not be easy for Munda

Munda, who proved his government's majority on Tuesday, was sworn in Sep 11 along with two deputy chief ministers - Sudesh Mahto of the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) and Hemant Soren, son of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren.

Now Munda has to accommodate nine more ministers. According to sources, JMM wants five cabinet berths, AJSU three and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) one in the 12-member cabinet. Both JMM and BJP have 18 seats each.

Besides Munda, BJP may have to satisfy itself with two more cabinet berths. Three cabinet berths are already being kept for the AJSU while the JMM is sticking to five, sources say.

In JMM, the strong contenders for ministerial posts are Teklal Mahto, Simon Marandi, Champai Soren, Mahtura Mahto, Haji Hussain Ansari and Sita Soren.

Sita Soren is the daughter-in-law of Shibu Soren and she has expressed her willigness to become minister.

For Shibu Soren it is difficult to choose between her and dedicated senior party legislators like Teklal, Hemalal, Simon and others. His son Hemant is already deputy chief minister.

In the BJP, at least seven legislators are lobbying to get a place in the Munda cabinet. These include state party president Raghubar Das, Baijnath Ram, Nilkanth Singh Munda, Barkuwar Gagarai, Arun Mandal, Maneka Sardar and Satyanand Jha.

Sources in the BJP say the JD-U may not get a berth. The JD-U has only two legislators - Sudha Chaudhary and Raja Peter. Both are in the race for a place in the Munda cabinet.
The sources say JD-U legislators could be adjusted in boards and corporations so that the BJP gets one more ministerial position.

Munda will visit New Delhi to finalise the list of ministers of the BJP and JD-U. The BJP ministers' names will be finalised by its central leaders.

Munda is also likely to meet JD-U president Sharad Yadav in New Delhi.

"Cabinet expansion will take place after consultations and mutual understanding. There will be no problem in cabinet expansion," Munda told reporters.

Munda was sworn in as chief minister Sep 11 at the head of a JMM-BJP government in Jharkhand, which had been under President's Rule since June.

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