Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who had a smooth sailing in his first three terms between 2005 and 2018 when the BJP had a comfortable majority in the Assembly, is having a tough time in his fourth innings as the chief minister.
Expected to allocate portfolios to the newly inducted ministers after returning from New Delhi, Chouhan could not do so on Tuesday.
Before leaving for Delhi a couple of days ago, he had said that he would allocate portfolios immediately on his return. On Tuesday, he said he would need some more time.
Twenty-eight ministers, including 12 former Congress legislators, were inducted into his ministry on July 2 but five days on, they are still without portfolio. Most of the former Congress MLAs are loyalists of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is learnt to be demanding key ministries for them.
Many BJP legislators who were Cabinet ministers in Chouhan’s previous ministries want portfolios on a par with their seniority.
The tussle between the Chouhan camp and Scindia had reportedly delayed the ministry expansion, and now it seems to have impacted portfolio allocation. Chouhan had worked alone from March 23 and inducted five ministers on April 21, including Scindia loyalists Tulsiram Silawat and Govind Rajput.
While Silawat got water resources, Rajput was given food and civil supplies portfolio.
In contrast, BJP MLAs Narottam Mishra and Kamal Patel got key portfolios — Mishra got home and health, and Patel agriculture. The fifth minister then inducted, BJP’s Meena Singh, got the tribal welfare department.
Chouhan had camped in Delhi before last week’s ministry expansion and had to extend his stay for discussions on portfolio allocation. Scindia, who succeeded in getting 14 of the 22 former Congress MLAs ministerial berths, is reportedly driving a hard bargain.
Chouhan’s ostensible purpose of the Delhi visit was to meet Union ministers.
Commenting on the political situation, Congress leader Shatrughan Singh on Tuesday tweeted that the BJP in Madhya Pradesh was divided in three camps: Shivraj, naraj (those unhappy with expansion), and maharaj (Scindia).
Former chief minister Kamal Nath, who was unseated by the Scindia-led rebellion, took a dig at the BJP over hurdles in portfolio allocation. “The BJP government was formed through sauda (trading), the Cabinet was formed through sauda, and portfolios too will be allocated by sauda,’’ he told reporters in Ujjain.
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