Yogi carries out expansion of ministry; tries to placate Dalits, backwards after RSS chief’s comment on quota
The Yogi Government in Uttar Pradesh carried out its first cabinet expansion after almost 29 months of taking charge, maintaining a delicate caste balance giving prominence to Dalits and backwards in the face of backlash party received over RSS Chief’s statement on reservation.
In a simple function held at Raj Bhawan, 23 new ministers were inducted of which six were cabinet rank, six others were Minister of state (Independent Charge) and remaining 11 were Ministers of State.
Among the new inducted ministers, six are Brahmins, four are Thakurs, 3 Vaishya and 10 belong to Dalits and backward community. The total strength of the ministry has gone up to 56 including the chief minister. The cabinet can have a maximum of 61 ministers, including the Chief Minister as statute allows a government to have council of ministers up to 15 per cent of the total strength of the state assembly. The Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats.
Earlier there were 43 ministers in the state Council of ministers which included 20 cabinet ministers including two Deputy CMs — Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dr Dinesh Sharma, nine Ministers of State with independent charges and 13 Ministers of State.
The ministers who were elevated from Minister of State status to cabinet are Dr Mahendra Singh, Bhupendra Singh Choudhury, Suresh Rana, Anil Rajbhar while the two new cabinet ministers are Ram Naresh Agnihotri and Ms Kamla Rani.
Those sworn in as Ministers of State with Independent charge are Kapil Dev, Ashok Kataria, Neelkanth Tiwari, Ravindra Jaiswal, Shri Ram Chauhan and Satish Dwivedi — the latter had defeated former Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey in 2017.
Neelkanth Tiwari, who has been given Independent charge, and Ravindra Jaiswal both belong to Varanasi, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency.
The BJP leaders who took the oath for minister of state are Anil Sharma, Mahesh Gupta, Anand Swarup Shukla, Vijay Kashyap, Giriraj Singh Dharmesh, Lakhan Singh Rampur, Nilima Katiyar, Choudhury Uday Bhan Singh, Chandrika Prasad Upadhaya, Ramashanker Singh Patel and Ajit Pal Singh.
“It was a tough task for Chief Minister to balance the caste equation in the wake of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement about reservation. The statement had given Mayawati a handle to beat BJP and to blunt that attack, Yogi was forced to include more Dalits and backwards in his cabinet,” a senior BJP leader told this reporter on Wednesday.
This reshuffle could be seen as a step towards Yogi’s preparations for 2022 assembly elections as leaders from all regions have been given prominence. Anil Rajbhar, who was Minister of State (Independent charge) has been elevated to Cabinet rank minister. This step is seen as an attempt to placate Rajbhar community, who have a big presence in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
After BJP parted ways with Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) led by Om Prakash Rajbhar, it was important for BJP to keep this OBC caste in a good humour. It was feared that SBSP can damage the BJP in 2022 elections. The elevation of Anil Rajbhar to the rank of cabinet minister can stem that damage to an extent.
Secondly, through this reshuffle the Chief Minister has made an attempt to shed the image of a cabinet which is dominated by Thakurs. In this expansion, six Brahmins were included against four thakurs.
Before the expansion, five ministers in the Yogi cabinet had tendered resignation. The ministers who resigned included Swatantra Dev Singh (who is now BJP state head), Rajesh Agarwal, Dharampal Singh, Archana Pandey and Anupama Jaiswal. Besides three ministers Rita Bahuguna Joshi, SP Singh Baghel and Satyadev Pachauri resigned from Vidhan sabha after they won Lok Sabha elections..
Yogi Adityanath cabinet took the oath of office on March 17, 2017 and at that time there were 24 cabinet ministers, 9 ministers with independent charge and 13 ministers of state.
Courtesy : National Herald