Updated: November 1, 2015 1:42:59 am
Former union minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia was a surprise inclusion as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav expanded his ministry Saturday.
Ramoowalia’s resignation caught SAD by surprise. While the party did expel Ramoowalia from its primary membership after he was sworn in as a cabinet minister in the UP government, its leaders appeared to have had no clue of the former MP’s intentions to quit. Ramoowalia sent his resignation to SAD general secretary D S Cheema a couple of hours before the swearing in.
Governor Ram Naik administered the oath of office to 21 ministers, including 12 new faces. Two of these new ministers are of cabinet rank, including Ramoowalia, two are ministers of state with independent charge, and eight are ministers of state.
Two ministers of state and one MoS (Independent Charge) have been promoted as cabinet ministers, while six ministers of state have been given independent charge. The strength of the Akhilesh ministry is now 58.
Most SP leaders failed to recognise Ramoowalia as he sat with other ministers designate at the swearing-in. “I got the offer from Mulayam Singh. Until yesterday night, I was in SAD, and now as I have taken oath, I will resign and will join the Samajwadi Party,” Ramoowalia told The Sunday Express after taking oath at the Raj Bhawan.
He claimed he had a long association with Mulayam, and had worked for the development of the state.
“I live in Ghaziabad, and it will take hardly 2-4 days to study the working of UP,” Ramoowalia, who originally hails from Moga, Punjab, said.
Ramoowalia became union minister for welfare and labour in 1996. He was then elected to Rajya Sabha as an independent with Mulayam’s support. He had been member of the Lok Sabha earlier in 1977 and 1984 as a SAD candidate. He had also served as vice-chairman of the National Minorities Commission in 1995. “This (as a minister in UP) is a new responsibility for me,” he said.
The other new cabinet minister is Sahib Singh Saini, who was close to former chief minister N D Tiwari before he joined the SP. Saini, who belongs to Saharanpur, was made chairman of the UP Seeds Corporation, and was then nominated as MLC by Akhilesh Yadav.
One of the two new MoS (Independent Charge) is Madan Chauhan, the MLA from Garh Mukteshwar, who is considered close to Amar Singh. He had left the SP with Amar Singh in 2010, but returned after a year. The other new MoS with independent charge is Shadab Fatima, who belongs to the Shia community.
Among the new ministers of state are Radheyshyam Singh of Kushinagar, Shailendra Yadav ‘Lalai’ of Jaunpur, Omkar Singh Yadav of Badaun, Sudhir Rawat of Unnao, Laxmikant alias Papu Nishad from Sant Kabir Nagar and Bansidhar Baudh from Bahraich. Hemraj Verma from Pilibhit could not reach on time, and was administered the oath at 3 pm.
Tej Narain Pandey alias Pawan Pandey of Ayodhya, who was earlier sacked following allegations of illegal mining, was reinducted as MoS.
The ministers elevated to cabinet rank include Arvind Singh Gope who had MoS (Independent Charge), and ministers of state Kamal Akhtar and Vinod Singh alias Pandit Singh.
Six ministers of state, Reyaz Ahmed, Fareed Mahfooz Kidwai, Moolchandra Chauhan, Ram Sakal Gurjar, Nitin Agarwal and Yasir Shah, have been given independent charge.
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