Bhopal: By carefully picking a jumbo Cabinet with 28 new ministers — most of who belong to the Gwalior-Chambal region, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made it clear that it has eyes firmly set on the 24 approaching assembly bypolls, 16 of which will take place in Gwalior-Chambal region.
With the expansion in Cabinet, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh now has 33 ministers, mostly from this region.
The induction of 11 ministers from the region comes as the fate of Shivraj government depends solely on the outcome of bypolls, especially in the 16 Gwalior-Chambal seats. Home and Health minister Dr Narottam Mishra also hails from this region. Of the 12 ministers, eight owe affiliation to Jyotiraditya Scindia camp.
That Scindia factor holds crucial importance to the bypoll outcome is visible in the Shivraj cabinet. In addition to nine of Scindia supporters inducted into the cabinet on Thursday, two were already in the Cabinet, taking the total number of Scindia camp ministers to 11 — which is one-third of the total strength of the cabinet that is 33, excluding the Chief Minister.
It’s big win for Scindia camp as out of 19 of his MLAs who had resigned from Congress party in March this year, 11 have been obliged by BJP with ministerial berths. While taking care of his loyalists, Scindia did not disappoint three other former Congress MLAs who had followed him to BJP. Bisahulal Singh, Hardeep Singh Dang and Aidal Singh Kansana who do not belong to his camp also got ministerial berths.
Those inducted from Gwalior-Chambal include Imarti Devi, Pradyumn Singh Tomar, Girraj Dandotia, Aidal Singh Kansana, Brijendra Singh Yadav, Mahendra Singh Sisodia, Arvind Bhaduaria, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Suresh Dhakad, Bharat Singh Kushwah and OPS Bhadauria.
The BJP appears to have kept the caste equations in mind while picking ministers from this region. OPS Bhadauria is Thakur, Girraj Dandotia comes from Brahmin community, Aidal Singh Kansana from Gurjars, Suresh DHakad from Kirar community, Imarti Devi from SC community, Pradyumn Singh Tomar from Thakur community and Bharat Singh Kushwah from Kushwaha community.
However, the cabinet expansion tilted the balance heavily in Gwalior-Chambal region’s favour, causing some unrest in the BJP. Former Chief Minister Uma Bharti went on record to say that Cabinet does not have regional balance and her recommendations also were ignored by the party.
Jabalpur, which offered sizable support to the BJP in last few assembly polls, was left disappointed as no local MLA was picked as minister. Ashok Rohani and former minister Ajay Vishnoi were in the hunt for a cabinet berth but eventually dropped out.
With seven new faces, Malwa region has eight ministers, Nimad two, central region three, Bundelkhand four and Vindhya three.
In yet another interesting development, of the 33 ministers of Shivraj Cabinet, 11 are former Congressmen which makes it a cabinet which runs with the help 41 per cent leaders who were earlier in Congress.
Perhaps in a first, 14 former Congressmen who are now ministers in the Shivraj government are not even MLAs as they had resigned before joining BJP. All of them are required to win assembly bypolls to keep their ministerial posts intact.
Including Shivraj Singh Chouhan, his Cabinet now has 34 ministers and 59 per cent are originally BJP leaders.
Imarti Devi, Mahedra Singh Sisodia, Tulsiram Silawat, Prabhuram Chaudhary, Pradyumn Singh Tomar and Govind Singh Rajput are Scindia loyalists who were ministers in Kamal Nath Cabinet and now have retained their ministerial berths in the BJP government.
Apart from this, there are 18 new faces and nine old Cabinet colleagues of Shivraj Singh Chouhan have retained their berths.