Six new ministers are likely to be taken on board as Chief Minister Anandiben Patel goes for the first expansion of her cabinet on Wednesday, six months after taking over as CM. In the oath ceremony to be held at Raj Bhavan, Patel is likely to take two new cabinet ministers and four ministers of states (MoS). At present, Patel’s cabinet has 21 members. She can induct a maximum of 27 members into her cabinet.
Senior BJP leader Vijay Rupani winning the Rajkot West assembly by-election in October and forest and environment minister Ganpat Vasava’s reinduction as Speaker for the second time had made the cabinet reshuffle, if not expansion, inevitable.
Besides, many had also called for regional and caste balance in the ministry, which is currently dominated by leaders from north Gujarat. The clamour to have better representation from Saurashtra and south Gujarat is growing among party leaders.
It remains to be seen if former Rajya Sabha MP Rupani, who is the party’s top man in Saurashtra, gets cabinet berth directly or is first made MoS. Deputy Speaker Mangu Patel, a tribal leader, might get back in the cabinet, mainly replacing his fellow tribal leader Vasava.
The first woman chief minister of the state, Patel is likely to get more women representatives in her government. At present, Vasu Trivedi, MoS education, is the only woman in the Anandiben cabinet.
Hira Solanki, the brother of tainted minister Purshottam Solanki, who was dropped by Patel at the time of government formation in May, is likely to get inducted, owing to the growing demand by the Koli community for their representation. The junior Solanki, who is an MLA from Rajula, might get fisheries department, like his brother. The maximum number of fishermen in state are from Koli community.
However, Patel may choose not to succumb to the demand of the Solanki brothers and instead go for newly elected MLA Shiva Gohil from Talaja. To give representation to central Gujarat names of Vallabh Kakadia from Ahmedabad and Pankaj Desai from Anand have also been doing the rounds. Four fresh faces are likely to join the government as MoS.