BJP's hardline Hindutva poster boy and five-time MP, Yogi Adityanath was today sworn in as the 21st chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, heading a 47-member council of ministers that includes two deputy CMs.
A surprise inclusion was cricketer-turned-politician Mohsin Raza, who was sworn in as a minister of state becoming the lone Muslim face in the state government. BJP had not fielded any Muslim candidate in the Assembly polls.
Soon after assuming office, 44-year-old Adityanath got cracking and directed all his ministers to give details of their income, movable and immovable assets within 15 days to send a strong message that corruption will not be tolerated.
Adityanath, who has been attacked for his inflammatory remarks against Muslims in the past, asserted that his government "will work for all sections of the society without any discrimination. We will ensure balanced development of UP".
In his first media interaction after taking over, he asked his ministerial colleagues to refrain from making unnecessary statements that could hurt someone's sentiments.
Interestingly, the chief minister, his two deputies -- BJP state unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya (47) and party's national vice president Dinesh Sharma (53) -- and Raza (49) are not members of either House of the UP legislature.
Besides the two deputy CMs, his council of ministers has 22 other cabinet ministers, nine ministers of state with independent charge and 13 ministers of state.
Adityanath is the fourth chief minister from the saffron party, ending its 15-year hiatus in the Hindi heartland state.
The oath of office and secrecy was administered by Governor Ram Naik at Kashiram Smriti Upvan at a grand 90-minute ceremony attended by a galaxy of BJP luminaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and L K Advani.
Expressing "immense confidence" that this new team will leave no stone unturned in making UP 'Uttam Pradesh', Modi tweeted, "There will be record development. Our sole mission & motive is development. When UP develops, India develops. We want to serve UP's youth & create opportunities for them..."
Outgoing chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father and Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav also attended the function.
However, BSP supremo Mayawati chose to boycott the event alleging that by making "RSS man" Adityanath the chief minister, the saffron party wanted to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls not on its development plank, but by "polarising voters".
"I got the invitation but boycotted the oath-taking ceremony as the BJP has betrayed the backward castes and Brahmins by making him (Adityanath) the chief minister following the RSS agenda," she said.
The swearing-in ceremony was the culmination of a seven-phased Assembly election spread over two months in the most populous state, which gave BJP a landslide victory in the 403-member Assembly. BJP and its allies have won 325 seats.
Adityanath, who lacks administrative experience, was
unanimously elected yesterday as the BJP legislature party leader at a meeting of the newly elected MLAs, a move that took many by surprise.
Before Adityanath, Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh of BJP had served as UP chief minister. Kalyan Singh, now Rajasthan governor, held the high office twice.
The chief minister has sought to strike a regional and caste balance in his 47-member council of ministers.
The BJP, which had fought the election jointly with its allies Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), honoured the alliance giving one ministerial berth each to these caste-based outfits.
Om Prakash Rajbhar (SBSP) got a cabinet berth, while Jai Kumar Singh (AD-S) was made a minister of state.
In the Assembly polls, BJP won 312 of the 403 seats, while AD(S) got nine seats and SBSP won four.
There are at least 17 ministers from eastern UP, where BJP has made inroads this time, 12 are from western part of the state and 11 from the central region. There are three Dalit ministers while 26 hail from the upper castes. The rest belong to OBCs, like Kurmi and Rajbhar.
Senior UP BJP leaders are of the view that the party, which has had loyal support from the upper castes, needs to focus on the new vote bank also in the state in the run up to 2019 Lok Sabha polls.