With nine more ministry seats promised to the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp, the scheduled Cabinet expansion appears to be a tough task for BJP in Madhya Pradesh amid an internal tussle between Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the party organisation.
Unable to get any of his loyalists accommodated in his Cabinet so far, Chouhan is learnt to be insisting that some of them be inducted. But the organisation leadership, which has been miffed with Chouhan for a range of reasons – the latest being his failure to get all MLAs to votes for BJP’s official candidates in Rajya Sabha elections – is not budging, sources said.
Delhi Confidential| Focus Of Attention
Chouhan, in Delhi for the last two days, has had a series of meetings with the BJP leadership, including party president J P Nadda and general secretary (organisation) B L Santosh. On Monday, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
He is scheduled to leave for Bhopal on Tuesday morning.
While hectic parleys took place on Sunday and Monday, if all issues are sorted out overnight, the Cabinet expansion is technically expected on Tuesday. There seems to be remote possibility of the exercise taking place on Tuesday. Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, who was to take additional charge of MP on Monday, is likely to reach Bhopal on Tuesday. MP Governor Lalji Tandon is undergoing treatment in Lucknow.
Sources said the Scindia camp – he had joined BJP along with 22 Congress MLAs, triggering the fall of the Kamal Nath government – has sought at least 11 of his MLAs to be made ministers. Two of his loyalists have already taken oath and Scindia wants the deputy CM’s post for one of them, sources said.
This leaves very little room for the party to accommodate others, including senior leaders. While the government is allowed 35 ministers, sources said both the party and Chouhan would keep some slots vacant. Sources said Chouhan’s currently six-member council of ministers is expected to have 25 more members.
A party leader admitted that senior leaders have not been left with much choice. “The party will have to give what the Scindia camp asks for. The BJP could return to power in MP because of them.” A party MP added. “Almost 40-45 per cent of ministries will have to go to them.”
A senior BJP leader in Bhopal said the expansion is getting delayed because the whole concentration is on the Gwalior-Chambal belt, where most of the 24 seats bound for by-elections are located. The former Congress MLAs in Scindia camp belong to this region. —With inputs from ENS Bhopal
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