EXPANDING HIS cabinet for the seventh and perhaps the last time before state goes to polls in 2017, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday inducted three new fresh faces while dropping science and technology minister Manoj Kumar Pandey, even as Balram Yadav made a comeback to the ministry.
Governor Ram Naik administered oath of office to four ministers — two of cabinet rank and two ministers of state with independent charge — at Raj Bhavan.
In a surprise move, Akhilesh dropped Pandey — an MLA from Unchahar Assembly seat in Rae Bareli. Sources said speculation is rife that Pandey was getting close to the BJP. This created a new vacancy in the ministry which with Monday’s induction reached its maximum strength of 60. There are now 26 cabinet ministers, 12 MoS (Independent) and 22 ministers of state.
As decided by the SP Parliamentary Board, senior minister Balram Yadav, who had to bear the brunt of SP’s merger with QED last week, made a comeback to the cabinet. Senior leader Narad Rai, who was removed from the ministry earlier, also made a comeback.
Along with Rai, Jiauddin Rizvi was inducted in the cabinet. Both are MLAs from Ballia district. While Rizvi’s inclusion is seen as a minority face, for Rai, it would be his second stint as a cabinet minister in the current government. Earlier, Rai had served as sports and then as khadi and village industries minister before being dropped from the ministry in the 2015 reshuffle.
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While Balram Yadav and Narad Rai took oath as the ministers on Monday, Rizvi is currently on pilgrimage and would take oath on his return.
Despite speculations, no young face was inducted in the ministry.
Instead, the two new faces, who were inducted as ministers of state with Independent charge were both MLAs from Lucknow — Ravidas Mehrotra, MLA from Lucknow central and Sharda Pratap Shukla, MLA from Sarojini Nagar in Lucknow. Both were reportedly sulking for not being given a place in the government.