YOGI ADITYANATH, five-time BJP MP from Gorakhpur, took oath on Sunday as the Chief Minister of UP along with two deputy chief ministers and 44 ministers in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, at least 11 Union ministers, chief ministers of nine states and the deputy chief minister of J&K. BJP veterans L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, and SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav, the outgoing chief minister, were also part of the high-profile swearing-in ceremony, which was not attended by leaders from the Congress or BSP.
Adityanath will lead a council of ministers that includes deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, 22 members of Cabinet rank, nine ministers of state with independent charge and 13 ministers of state. It includes five women, one of Cabinet rank, two ministers of state (independent charge) and two ministers of state.
A notable inclusion in Adityanath’s team as a minister of state is its lone Muslim face Mohsin Raza. The BJP had not fielded a single Muslim candidate while sweeping the state with its allies for a majority of 325 in the House of 403 in the recent assembly elections. Raza, a state-level cricketer turned politician, joined the party in 2013.
Among the interesting picks for Cabinet ministers are former Congress state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who switched to BJP and defeated Mulayam’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav in the polls, former Test cricketer Chetan Chauhan, and former BSP minister Swami Prasad Maurya. BJP spokespersons Shrikant Sharma and Siddharth Nath Singh have also been given Cabinet rank.
Those named as ministers of state with independent charge include Suresh Rana, who has been named in the Muzaffarnagar riots case, and Swati Singh, state chief of BJP’s Mahila Morcha and wife of Dayashankar Singh, who was reinducted to the party last week after being sacked for making objectionable remarks against BSP chief Mayawati last year.
Among the ministers of state is former UP chief minister and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh’s grandson Sandeep Singh, 26, who is the youngest minister in the council.
The oath-taking ceremony began after Prime Minister Modi and Adityanath walked on to the dais after the others had reached the venue. Adityanath and his council of ministers were administered the oath by Governor Ram Naik in a ceremony that lasted one hour and 25 minutes.
Former BJP chief of UP, Surya Pratap Shahi, was the first to take oath as Cabinet minister. An MLA from Pathardeva in Deoria, Shahi had been removed from the party position after the poor show in the 2012 assembly elections.
The other Cabinet ministers are Suresh Khanna, Satish Mahana, Rajesh Agrawal, Dara Singh Chauhan, Dharampal Singh, SP Singh Baghel, Satyadev Pachauri, Ramapati Shastri, Jai Prakash Singh, Brijesh Pathak, Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, Mukut Bihari Verma, Ashutosh Tandon, Nand Gopal Gupta alias Nandi, Rajendra Pratap Singh alias Moti Singh and Om Prakash Rajbhar, an MLA of BJP ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party.
Those who took oath as ministers of state with independent charge included BJP state general secretaries Anupama Jaiswal and Swatantra Deo Singh, national secretary Mahendra Singh, Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, Upendra Tiwari, Dharam Singh Saini and Anil Rajbhar.
Among the ministers of state were Neelkanth Tiwari, first-time MLA from Varanasi South that falls in Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, and Baldeo Aulakh, a Sikh. Others who took oath were Gulab Devi, Jai Prakash Nishad, Archana Pandey, Atul Garg, Ranvendra Pratep Singh, Girish Yadav, Mannu Kori, Suresh Pasi and Jai Kumar Singh Jaiki, MLA of ally Apna Dal.
The Union ministers present included Rajnath Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Narendra Singh Tomar, Uma Bharti, Kalraj Mishra, Mahesh Sharma, V K Singh, Ramdas Athawale and Anupriya Patel. Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, who was said to be in the race for the chief minister’s post, was not present.
The chief ministers of other states who attended were Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Manohar Parrikar (Goa), Devendra Fadnavis (Maharashtra), Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan), Trivendra Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand), Raghubar Das (Jharkhand) and Nirmal Singh (Deputy CM of J&K).
After the end of the ceremony, Mulayam and Akhilesh met Prime Minister Modi for a brief chat. However, BJP veterans Advani and Joshi mostly kept to themselves, hardly sharing a word with anyone else.