A dozen Scindia loyalists inducted into MP cabinet
The much-awaited cabinet expansion in Madhya Pradesh saw the majority of the ministerial berths being awarded to the supporters of Jyothiradiya Scindia.
Three months after Jyothiradiya Scindia’s defection from the Congress to the BJP toppled the Congress-led government in the state, Madhya Pradesh finally has an expanded cabinet. Until now, the government had been functioning with a five-member cabinet under Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan and pressure had been mounting on him to allocate more ministerial berths.
Scindia was richly rewarded for his role in ousting Kamal Nath’s government – 12 out the 28 new ministers announced are from his camp, selected at the expense of several senior BJP leaders in the state. That all 12 of the former Congressmen are non-MLAs who are yet to contest the by-elections is another bone of contention. The 20 cabinet ministers and eight ministers took their oaths in Raj Bhavan under the acting governor Anandiben Patel.
The former leader of the opposition Gopal Bhargav, who was openly disgruntled about not getting a cabinet post in the Congress government had his wish fulfilled in the BJP-led one. Shivraj Singh Chouhan managed to elevate 10 supporters from his camp, while Home Minister Narottam Mishra and Kailash Vijayvargiya also had their share of six. With 230 seats, the government can have a maximum of 35 ministers so the berths are full to the brim with only one ministerial berth vacant currently.
Several BJP leaders left out of the race are upset over being sidelined in favour of Congress defectors. The state Congress unit also remarked on this with former CM Kamal Nath tweeting that he was pained to not see “eligible, senior and committed” BJP leaders in the cabinet. He also called out the fact that 14 out of 33 ministers weren’t even MLAs and that this was a mockery of the constitution.
Bypolls are scheduled for 24 seats – 22 belonging to the Congress defectors and 2 where the MLAs had died. In the elections held in December 2018, the BJP could win only one of these 24 seats. It is understood that all 22 rebels will be fielded in their former constituencies. While it’s unusual that a majority of them are already ministers, his supporters argue that this would give them an advantage over opposition candidates.