All eyes were on prime minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet reshuffle to see if he will follow the Bharatiya Janata Party central leadership’s diktat given to Madhya Pradesh where two senior ministers were dropped from the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet last week on grounds of crossing 75 years in age.
On Tuesday, Modi surprised many by retaining two ageing ministers -- Najma Heptulla (76) and Kalraj Mishra (75).
However, for state Bharatiya Janata Party president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, Union ministers Heptullah and Mishra are yet to turn 75.
Finding it difficult to defend himself and the party which ousted the two ministers from MP cabinet-- Babulal Gaur and Sartaj Singh – as they were above 75, Chauhan said, “They are not over 75 yet.”
Chauhan added that the decision to apply ‘No over 75 rule’ was taken by the BJP’s central leadership.
When asked if the BJP would apply the ‘No over 75’ rule in the reconstitution of the state executive later this month, Chauhan said the rule will apply for the working committee of the state unit.
He said the induction of three MPs from the state -- Anil Madhav Dave, MJ Akbar and Faggan Singh Kulaste -- in the Union council of ministers had strengthened the representation of the state in central leadership.
“I must express gratitude to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for giving maximum representation to the state. It will boost the development in the state. It is natural for ministers to take extra care of their constituencies,” he added.
When asked why the BJP was in a haste to induct MJ Akbar in the council of ministers despite his association with the Congress in the past, Chauhan said, “He knew our ideology and joined us, after due deliberation. And the BJP is never in haste just because of a person’s religion. We see a person’s usefulness for the party and the country.”