A reshuffle in the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is likely as three ministers won the Lok Sabha elections while one was sacked, BJP sources said. The exercise, the first since March 2017 when the Adityanath government was sworn in, is also likely to reward party’s leaders for their hard work in ensuring a win in 62 of the 80 seats in the state, the sources said.
The three cabinet ministers who contested the Lok Sabha election and won are SP Singh Baghel from Agra, Rita Bahuguna Joshi from Allahabad and Satyadev Pachauri from Kanpur. Disgruntled minister and SBSP leader O P Rajbhar was sacked by the chief minister for his outburst against his NDA partner, the BJP.
“Reshuffling of the UP Cabinet is on the cards. However, it is the sole and absolute prerogative of the chief minster,” a senior UP BJP leader said.
The current council of ministers headed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has 18 Cabinet ministers, nine ministers of state (independent charge) and 13 ministers of state, in addition to two deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma. The total headcount currently stands at 43.
“The maximum size of the ministry can be 15 per cent of the total strength of the Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly). The UP Assembly has 403 seats and hence the state can have a maximum of 61 ministers including the chief minister in the Council of Ministers headed by him,” UP BJP vice-president J P S Rathore told PTI.
He added that the current ministerial strength is below the maximum limit. After the declaration of the Lok Sabha election results, Adityanath in an interview to PTI had said that a cabinet reshuffle was very much on the cards and he is likely to take a decision soon.
“We will do it (Cabinet expansion). We will do everything as and when time comes. We will do everything in the interest of the state,” he had said.
The two loyalists who are likely to be rewarded with elevated posts are Mahendra Singh and Swatantradev Singh, the in-charge of the party’s campaigns in Assam and Madhya Pradesh, respectively, party insiders said.
While Mahendra Singh is the minister of state (independent charge) for Rural Development and Overall Village Development, Swatantradev Singh is the minister of state (independent charge) for Transport and Protocol.
“Mahendra Singh was the party’s in-charge in Assam, where the BJP won nine out of 14 Lok Sabha seats. “After the elections were over in Assam, he was assigned the task of organising the roadshow of BJP chief Amit Shah in Amethi and Gorakhpur. Both the roadshows were highly successful,” a senior UP BJP leader told PTI.
Another leader pointed out that Swatantradev Singh was made in-charge of the crucial state of Madhya Pradesh, where the party bagged 28 out of 29 Lok Sabha seats.
“The task was indeed very challenging as the BJP had lost in the assembly elections to the Congress. To boost the morale of the party workers and to ensure that a positive result for the party comes from that state was a tough task. His efforts paid rich dividends for the party, as Congress bigwigs such as Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia had to taste defeat,” he said.
With monsoon session of the UP Legislative Assembly beginning on July 18, it remains to be seen whether the reshuffle takes place before or after the session.