More ministers in MP
The expansion of the five-member Madhya Pradesh cabinet is in the offing this week. The pandemic and a lack of consensus within the Bharatiya Janata Party on the selection had deferred it. Last week, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had a meeting on the matter with the party’s state unit president, V D Sharma, and state General Secretary (Organisation) Suhas Bhagat to finalise the list of the possible new ministers. Twenty/25 new ministers are expected to be sworn in during the much-awaited expansion. At least 10 candidates among them would be Jyotiraditya Scindia’s loyalists, who had quit the Assembly and the Congress in March. Chouhan, who was on a religious trip to south India last week, is expected to swing by New Delhi to get the Centre’s nod for the crucial expansion.
Protest and pay
Last weekend, members of 13 parties opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party and Biju Janata Dal gathered in Bhubaneswar to protest what they alleged was inefficient handling of the coronavirus crisis in the state. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Ali Kishor Patnaik said the parties submitted a memorandum to the government, requesting it to act and “save the life and livelihood of the common people”. The communist leader also alleged corruption in the purchase of masks, sanitisers, and personal protective equipment. Huge sums have been siphoned off, he said, demanding “a high-level independent community enquiry”. After their protest, Odisha Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik and some other party representatives were slapped a fine of Rs 500 for violating social-distancing and government norms on Covid-19 during the protest.
Cattle and culture
A war of words broke out on social media after the Chhattisgarh government announced the Godhan Nyay Yojana last week, saying it would encourage organic farming and improve rural earnings. Under the scheme, the government would buy cattle waste from cattle owners to produce vermicompost, which would be used for organic farming. Immediately thereafter, former Bharatiya Janata Party minister Ajay Chandrakar tweeted that given the importance of cattle waste in the state's economy, Chhattisgarh’s state emblem (which depicts 36 forts, the Ashok Stambh, the state’s major crop of rice and its rivers, besides the phrase Satyamev Jayate) “should be replaced with cowdung”, tagging Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and other ministers. As expected, the post drew a sharp reaction from ministers. Congress Spokesperson R P Singh alleged Chandrakar’s tweet was tantamount to mocking the state’s culture. The last word has not been heard on this.