The important portfolios of health and home were allocated to senior BJP leader Narottam Mishra. Another important portfolio of agriculture and farmers’ welfare went to BJP MLA Kamal Patel. Madhya Pradesh is procuring wheat, chana, mustard and lentil from farmers in 49 out of 52 districts.
Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists Tulsiram Silawat and Govind Rajput were given charge of water resources and cooperatives portfolios respectively. Silawat held the health portfolio in the Kamal Nath government while Rajput was revenue and transport minister. Both had resigned as MLAs and will have to win bye-elections to validate their stay in office.
Tribal development department was allocated to Meena Singh, a tribal leader from Vindhya region.
“The portfolios have been allocated keeping the coronavirus challenge in mind,” Chouhan clarified, adding that once lockdown is lifted there will be further expansion of the cabinet. He indicated portfolios will then be reallocated.
After working alone for nearly a month since he took oath on March 23, Chouhan expanded his cabinet after facing criticism that the one-man cabinet was proving unequal to the task as the count of positive cases and death toll 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.
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.