Nearly a month after the BJP formed the government in Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday included two loyalists of Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose rebellion brought down the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government, into his five-member truncated Cabinet.
Since he took oath on March 23, Chouhan was the only minister in the state and had drawn criticism for not expanding his Cabinet even as the number of COVID-19 cases and the death toll in Madhya Pradesh continued to climb.
The Cabinet expansion, it is learnt, was delayed because the BJP was finding it difficult to strike a balance between its senior leaders and Scindia loyalists. And this is learnt to have forced the ruling party to name a truncated Cabinet. A full Cabinet is likely to be in place after the lockdown ends. Former Congress MLAs Tulsiram Silawat (65) and Govind Rajput (58), who held health and transport portfolios, respectively, in the Kamal Nath cabinet, were named ministers. They were among six ministers and 16 other MLAs who had resigned from the previous Congress government, reducing the party’s strength in the 230-member Assembly to 92, and joined the BJP.
Both will have to win bypolls in the next six months. In all, there will be 24 bypolls. The BJP’s strength in the Assembly is 107.
BJP leaders Narottam Mishra (60), a Brahmin leader from Gwalior region, Kamal Patel (58), an OBC leader from Harda, and Meena Singh (49), a tribal leader from Vindhya region, are the other ministers.
The five ministers belong to different regions. Chouhan did not immediately allot portfolios, but made the new ministers in-charge of two divisions each.
The expansion is learnt to have caused heartburn in some senior BJP leaders. Rajput’s induction has reportedly upset former Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargav and former Home Minister Bhupendra Singh because they both belong to Sagar region. Singh was in Bhopal till Monday but left for his hometown when it became apparent that he won’t find a place in the cabinet. Bhargav said he respected the party’s decision.
Scindia said, “I am sure under the able leadership of Chouhan, you will fight the war against the coronavirus unitedly and win.’’
Former CM Kamal Nath called it a joke on the 7.5 crore people of MP. “Only five ministers in an expansion that took place after one month. No allocation of portfolios,’’ he said.
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