Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan expanded his cabinet after more than three months’ wait on Thursday.
The inductions have been made, keeping in mind the ensuing by-elections. Nine Scindia loyalists and three party-hoppers have got berths. With that, there are now 11 members from the Scindia faction in the ministry.
At the same time, regional and caste equations have been given a go-by, leaving the likes of Uma Bharti sulking on the sidelines.
Three former ministers who switched over their allegiance from the Congress to the BJP have been given ministerial berths. Accordingly, there are now 14 ministers who have joined the BJP from the Congress.
The ministry also has given a vast chunk to the Gwalior-Chambal region. There are 12 ministers from this area. Out of the 24 seats where by-elections will be held, 16 are from the region.
The central leadership identified those who were close to Chouhan and kept them out of the cabinet. Instead, the beneficiaries are the BJP organisation and RSS’ blue-eyed boys.
In a scathing attack, ex-CM and state Congress president Kamal Nath on Thursday said, “For the first time in the history of a democracy, 14 out of 33 ministers are not MLAs. It’s mockery of Constitution and a cruel joke on the people.” In a jibe at senior BJP members and aspirants who failed to make the cut, he said “Personally, I am sad at not finding names of efficient, experienced and dedicated senior BJP MLAs in the Cabinet.”
In all, Governor Anandiben Patel administered oath to 20 cabinet ministers and eight ministers of state.
The influence of Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar was also a dominant factor. Several supporters of Tomar have found a place in the cabinet.
The anger among senior leaders of the BJP surfaced after the expansion. In a statement, former chief minister Uma Bharati said caste equation had gone for a toss, and her suggestions were ignored.
According to sources in the BJP, the names of legislators Jalam Singh Patel, Premshanker Verma, Rajesh Prajapati and Harishanker Khatik were recommended for ministerial berths. Uma is gnashing her teeth, because none of them has been inducted.
Her nephew is also an MLA, but she did not recommend his name for a cabinet berth. She wrote: Though she is a Sanyasin, she has let the party take the advantage of her being a Hindu, an Indian, a woman and a Lodhi.
A particular caste was kept in mind when she was asked to campaign for the party in Jhansi and a candidate was fielded from there, she said.
Uma’s statement has rattled the BJP. The party leadership refused to react to it, but the Congress said cracks have begun to appear in the ruling dispensation.