Chouhan had taken oath alone on March 23, the night before the Prime Minister announced the nationwide lockdown. After working alone until April 21, he inducted five ministers, including two loyalists of former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose rebellion brought down the previous Congress-led government.
Over the last few days there were fractious discussions in New Delhi and Bhopal on who will make it to the Cabinet because the party had to make a tightrope walk in trying to adjust BJP leaders, including those who had been ministers in the past, as well as Scindia’s supporters, who will soon face by-elections.
Twenty-two Congress MLAs, including six ministers in the erstwhile Kamal Nath government, had resigned and later joined the BJP earlier this year. While two of his loyalists, Tulsi Silawat and Govind Rajput, are already ministers, Scindia is learnt to have wanted 10 others to be accommodated.
Most seats bound for the by-elections are in the state’s Gwalior-Chambal region, where the former Union minister holds clout. The Congress had done well in the region in the 2018 Assembly elections.
Chouhan had a tough time convincing the BJP high command to accommodate senior MLAs who were ministers in his three previous terms between 2005 and 2018, even as the party looked for newer and energetic faces. Three BJP MLAs who were ministers in the past are unlikely to make it to his Cabinet this time, it is learnt.
The Chief Minister, who spent two days in Delhi before returning to Bhopal on Tuesday, hinted that he had to make some compromises. “Jab bhi manthan hota hai amrit nikalta hai, vish to Shiv pee jate hai (every churning produces nectar, Lord Shiv consumes the poison),’’ he told the media on Wednesday.
Taking a dig at Chouhan, former CM and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Kamal Nath tweeted, “The churning lasted so long that it produced only poison. Poison will have to be drunk daily from now on because there will be churning every day.”
Nath was likely indicating that the government will have a tough time because Chouhan will have to deal with unhappy BJP aspirants who will not be able to get ministerial berths.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, who took oath as MP Governor on Wednesday, will administer the oath of office to new ministers on Thursday. The state’s incumbent Governor, Lalji Tandon, is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Lucknow.
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