The Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday sought to strike caste and regional balance with its first cabinet expansion since coming to power on March 19, 2017.
Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of UP, has reportedly had his choice prevail in most of the legislators finding a place in the coveted group.
Governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath to the 23 new ministers, which includes 6 cabinet, 6 ministers of state (MoS) (independent charge) and 11 MoS in the presence of Adityanath and his cabinet colleagues.
While 18 legislators were inducted in the state council of ministers, 5 others were already serving as ministers and have been promoted on grounds of good performance. Among the serving ministers who have been elevated are Mahendra Singh, Suresh Rana, Neel Kanth Tiwari, Anil Rajbhar and Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary.
With today’s expansion, the BJP government has also hit the maximum number of ministers that can be inducted in the state council, which is currently pegged at 60 (15% of 403 Vidhan Sabha seats).
Earlier, 5 ministers had resigned to give way to new entrants. Those who had resigned included finance minister Rajesh Agarwal, transport minister Swatantra Dev Singh, Archana Agarwal, Anupama Jaiswal and Dharampal Singh. Among them, Swatantra Dev Singh had tendered his resignation after getting elevated as the UP BJP president, while others were purportedly removed over poor performance.
Since the UP council of ministers earlier numbered 43, there had been strong rumours of an impending cabinet expansion to accommodate more deserving legislators. Sometime back, three state ministers had also quit after they were elected to Lok Sabha, including Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Satyadeo Pachauri and S P Singh Baghel.
At the same time, nearly 45 districts were unrepresented in the erstwhile UP council of ministers and therefore it was considered imperative to revamp the cabinet before the momentum for the next UP assembly elections starts building up.
The 6 cabinet ministers taking oath today included Mahendra Singh, Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, Ram Naresh Agnihotri, Suresh Rana, Anil Rajbhar and Kamla Rani.
The 6 new Mos (independent charge) are Neel Kanth Tiwari, Kapil Dev Agarwal, Satish Dwivedi, Ashok Kataria, Ram Chauhan and Ravindra Jaiswal.
The 11 new MoS are Anil Sharma, Mahendra Gupta, Anand Swarup Shukla, Vijay Kashyap, Giraj Singh Dharmesh, Lakhan Singh Rajput, Neelima Katiyar, Uday Bhan Singh, Chandrika Prasad Upadhyay, Ramshankar Singh Patel and Ajit Singh Pal.
The new names were given a final seal of approval after elongated parleys between Adityanath, Swatantra Dev Singh and state BJP organisational secretary Sunil Bansal. The CM had earlier also met BJP president Amit Shah and working president J P Nadda in New Delhi.