Having ensured ministerial seats for his loyalists in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia again had his way on Monday when his men got key portfolios.
It took 11 days after the swearing-in of 28 new ministers (14 of them Scindia men) for the portfolios to be announced, as the Congress-turned-BJP Rajya Sabha leader insisted on plum posts. Chouhan had to balance that with the aspirations of senior BJP leaders in his own team, including some who had been cabinet ministers in his three terms between 2005 and 2018.
Among the Scindia loyalists, Govind Singh Rajput got the Revenue and Transport portfolio, that he had held in the previous Congress government in the state. Inducted back in April 21, he held the Food and Civil Supplies portfolio.
Besides, Health, Panchayat and Rural Development, Energy, and Women and Child Development portfolios went to Scindia followers. Ministers of state from his camp also got significant responsibilities like PWD, Urban Development and Farmer Welfare.
Earlier, Chouhan, having toppled the Kamal Nath Singh government in the state, was the only minister in his Cabinet from March 23 to April 21. Then, at first five ministers were sworn in, in his attempts to balance the changed power equation in the state, followed by another round of swearing-in on July 2. As many as 14 of the 22 legislators whose rebellion brought down the Congress government are now ministers; as compared to 20 of the 107 BJP MLAs in the state.
Among BJP leaders, Yashodhara Raje Scindia got Sports and Youth Welfare, Technical Education and Employment, Usha Thakur got Tourism and Culture, while Narottam Mishra of the BJP continues to hold Home and got Law, Jail and Parliamentary Affairs.
Mishra’s Health portfolio is now with Dr Prabhuram Chaudhary of the Scindia camp. Chaudhary was school education minister in the Congress government.
The Scindia camp’s Imarti Devi is back as Women and Child Development Minister, while loyalists Pradyumna Singh Tomar and Mahendra Singh Sisodiya get Energy and Panchayat and Rural Development, respectively.
The BJP’s Jagdish Devda (Finance and Commercial Tax), Gopal Bhargava (PWD), Bhupendra Singh (Urban Development) and Kamal Patel (Agriculture) now have ministers of state from the Scindia camp.
Some loyalists of the former Congress leader now are MoS with Independent charge, of portfolios like Ayush, School Education and Horticulture and Food Processing.
His camp’s Tulsiram Silawat, who held Health in the Congress government, retained Water Resources and got charge of Fisheries. Having faced criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic earlier, he had said he did not want Health.
Three other rebel Congress MLAs, Bisahulal Singh, Adal Singh Kansana and Hardip Dang, who were not exactly Scindia loyalists, have got Food and Civil Supplies, Public Health Engineering and Environment, and New and Renewable Energy portfolios, respectively.
Soon after the announcement of the portfolios, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted, “After 11 days of ‘workout’, the spoils from the loot have been shared. Revenue, transport and water resources have gone to absconders (bhagodas) and excise and urban development gone to the BJP… I don’t understand why Scindia is so much interested in revenue and transport.”
BJP MLA Ajay Vishnoi, who is sulking since he was not included in the ministry, continued to attack the party. “There was no government to be formed, no government to be toppled. Why was it done? Where do you want to take the BJP?” he tweeted.
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