Raipur: Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday conducted the first expansion of his Cabinet by inducting nine Congress MLAs, including a woman legislator, as ministers. With this, the strength of Bhupesh Baghel-led Cabinet has gone up to 12. Governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath to the new ministers during a function held at the Police Parade Ground here.

Two other Congress legislators — T.S. Singh Deo and Tamradhwaj Sahu — had taken oath as ministers on 17 December, after Bhupesh Baghel was sworn in as chief minister.

Those sworn in on Tuesday included four-time MLA Mohammad Akbar, the lone Muslim face inducted into the Cabinet, former Leader of Opposition Ravindra Choubey, Jaisingh Agrawal and two-time MLA Umesh Patel. Woman MLA Anila Bhedia, and Kawasi Lakhma and Premsai Singh Tekam were the tribal leaders inducted into the Cabinet.

State Congress’s working president Shiv Kumar Daharia and Rudra Guru, belonging to the Scheduled Caste community, were also sworn in as ministers.

All the ministers took oath in Hindi. The portfolios were yet to be announced.

Senior Congress leader P L Punia, chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and other leaders were present on the occasion.

The Chhattisgarh Cabinet can have a maximum of 13 ministers, including the chief minister.

The Congress returned to power in Chhattisgarh after 15 years, dislodging the Raman Singh-led BJP government. The Congress bagged 68 of the total 90 seats in the Assembly, while the BJP won only 15 seats.

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