Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan expanded his Council of Ministers on Saturday inducting three new members. The three ministers – Balkrishna Patidar, Narayan Singh Kushwaha and Jalam Singh Patel – were administered the oath of office by newly-appointed Governor Anandiben Patel at a function in Raj Bhavan in the presence of Chouhan and other senior ministers of the state Cabinet.
“It is a matter of happiness, will make the cabinet more balanced which will lead to better work and results. One expansion has taken place, another small one will also be done,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
While Patidar, who belongs to the Nimar region, is an MLA from Khargone, Kushwaha comes from the Gwalior-Chambal region and represents Gwalior South in the Assembly and Narsinghpur MLA Patel hails from Mahakaushal region. Patel is also the younger brother of BJP MP and former Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel. The expansion is being seen by some as an attempt by the BJP to balance regional aspirations of the people of the state ahead of the Assembly elections due later this year.
Since the cabinet reshuffle comes three weeks ahead of the bypolls in the Assembly constituency of Kolaras and Mungaoli, Congress has opposed the expansion of the Council of Ministers in view of enforcement of the model code of conduct for the February 24 bye-elections.
The Chouhan government has 20 Cabinet ministers, including the chief minister and nine Ministers of State. According to constitutional provisions, the state can have a maximum of 35 ministers, reported PTI.