New Delhi: Adityanath, the Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, expanded his cabinet on Wednesday morning. While there were speculations that he may appoint a third deputy chief minister, the government made no such announcement.
Officials said that the cabinet was expanded was to fill existing vacancies. The permitted strength of the cabinet is 61 but the number of ministers in Uttar Pradesh was only 42.
Governor Anandiben Patel inducted 23 ministers — six cabinet, six ministers of state with independent charge and 11 ministers of state — amidst loud chants of slogans like “Har Har Mahadev” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jay”. This is the first reshuffle that the BJP government has undertaken in the state since it came to power in 2017.
The reshuffle preceded resignations by a few ministers. Swatantradev Singh, the OBC Kurmi leader who was appointed the state president of the party, resigned saying that he was only following BJP’s doctrine of ‘one person, one post’.
The finance minister, 76-year-old, Rajesh Agarwal also quit his post. Although he said took the decision in accordance with the party’s policy of offering chances to new leaders, sources said that his rival in Bareilly, Union minister Santosh Gangwar had pressed for his removal. That Agarwal could not secure a victory for BJP in the polling booths he managed in the general elections also could have led to him quitting.
Minister of state for primary education Anupama Jaiswal also tendered her resignation on Tuesday evening. She was asked to leave because of non-performance, sources said.
The election of three ministers — Rita Bahuguna Joshi from Allahabad, S.P. Singh Baghel from Agra, and Satyadev Pachauri from Kanpur — to Lok Sabha also necessitated a reshuffle. Earlier, Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party president Om Prakash Rajbhar, who broke his alliance with the saffron party, was also removed from the cabinet.
The reshuffle became yet another chance for Adityanath to consolidate the support of the state’s OBC, Dalits and Brahmins since a majority of the new ministers belong to these communities. He had met Union home minister Amit Shah and the party’s working president J.P. Nadda last week. Among the 23 ministers, only two are women. Ten of the 23 are from different OBC communities while six are Brahmins.
Among those who were sworn-in on Wednesday was 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot-accused Suresh Rana. Rana, a two-time MLA from western Uttar Pradesh’s Thana Bhawan, was inducted as a cabinet minister and is likely to get his earlier sugarcane ministry portfolio.
“Most of the leaders included in the cabinet today have strong ground-level support and are seen as mass leaders. Rewarding them will undoubtedly benefit them in the next assembly elections,” said Mohammad Faisal, a senior journalist in Lucknow.
Meanwhile, opposition leader and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav attacked the government on Twitter. “The BJP government has failed on every front and now it wants to run away from its responsibilities by transferring officers. On the other hand, the BJP wants to divert people’s attention by the cabinet expansion. People are simply fed up of this diversion politics by the BJP,” he wrote.
हर मोर्चे पर असफल होती प्रदेश की भाजपा सरकार अपनी नाकामी से ध्यान हटाने के लिए एक तरफ़ अधिकारियों के ट्रांसफ़र कर अपनी ज़िम्मेदारी से पल्ला झाड़ लेना चाहती है, तो दूसरी तरफ़ कैबिनेट का विस्तार कर जनता का ध्यान बाँटना चाहती है.
भाजपा की गुमराह करने वाली राजनीति से जनता त्रस्त है
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) August 20, 2019