Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday expanded his cabinet by inducting seven new ministers including Jitin Prasada, who recently left the Congress party and joined the BJP. The cabinet expansion has also been done to balance caste and regional aspiration, months ahead of the crucial assembly polls in 2022.
All the new ministers were administered oath of office and secrecy by Governor Anandiben Patel at a hurriedly convened ceremony at the Raj Bhavan, in the presence of the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues.
Among those who were sworn in are one cabinet minister and six ministers of state.
Cabinet expansion to balance caste and regional aspiration
Through this expansion, the BJP has made it clear that it will focus on OBCs and SC/ST categories to ensure its return to power in next year’s assembly elections.
While Jitin Prasada, who has been sworn in as cabinet minister, is the lone Brahmin leader to get a place in Sunday’s expansion, the remaining six belong to OBC (three) and Scheduled Caste (two) and Scheduled Tribe (one).
The six ministers of state who were sworn in are — Sanjeev Gond (ST-Sonbhadra), Dharamvir Prajapati (OBC-Agra), Chhatrapal Gangwar (OBC-Bareilly), Sangita Balwant Bind (OBC-Ghazipur), Paltu Ram (SC- Balrampur) and Dinesh Khatik (SC-Meerut).
The state government has nominated newly inducted minister Jitin Prasada, Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad, Chaudhary Virendra Singh, and Ram Gopal as members of the UP Legislative Council.
Apart from ensuring a caste balance, the party has also made sure to provide representation to all parts of the state.
A surprise omission in Sunday’s list is the name of Arvind Kumar Sharma, a former bureaucrat in the PMO who had taken voluntary retirement in January this year to join politics. He came to Lucknow and was immediately made member of the UP legislative council.
It was believed that he would soon be inducted into the ministry and given an important portfolio, however that did not happen.
There are 53 ministers in the UP cabinet at present, and seven more could be inducted as per the constitutional limit. This is the third time the Yogi cabinet has been expanded since the Chief Minister was first sworn in on March 19, 2017.
As many as 23 new ministers were inducted into the cabinet on August 21, 2019.
(With IANS inputs)