Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath distributed portfolios among his council of ministers on Wednesday, three days after he took over the state government.
The chief minister – who promised to establish law and order and eliminate corruption in the state during his poll campaign – kept the home department, besides other key portfolios such as housing, revenue, state reorganisation, and mines and minerals (headed by tainted minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati in the Akhilesh Yadav regime).
Though Yadav had also kept the home department with him, Adityanath – unlike the previous chief minister – decided to give away finance and energy to other cabinet members.
Adityanath is also likely to shed some of the three dozen departments in his portfolio once additional ministers are inducted into the state cabinet. The strength of the assembly – comprising 403 MLAs – allows him to have 13 more ministers.
As anticipated, Adityanath gave away key departments to each of his two deputy chief ministers. While Keshav Prasad Maurya was given the public works department, Dinesh Sharma was put in charge of the secondary and higher education portfolio. The other departments they got weren’t as important.
The crucial finance ministry was allocated to Rajesh Agarwal, a six-time MLA and former deputy speaker of the state assembly.
Keeping Suresh Khanna’s experience in the Uttar Pradesh assembly in mind, the chief minister gave him the parliamentary affairs ministry – held by Azam Khan in the previous regime. Khanna has been in the state assembly for eight successive terms.
Of the four “turncoats” in the cabinet, Rita Bahuguna Joshi was the luckiest. The former Congress leader got three key departments – women and family welfare, maternal and child welfare, and tourism. The other three – Swami Prasad Maurya, Brajesh Pathak (both from the BSP) and Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi (Congress) – bagged fewer and less important departments than Joshi.
The portfolio distribution came a day after Adityanath’s visit to Delhi, where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah.
Adityanath distributed some of the portfolios among his ministers seemingly with their backgrounds in mind. For instance, he gave Satish Mahana – who hails from the industrial town of Kanpur – the key industrial development department, while Chetan Chauhan – a former cricketer – got sports and youth welfare.
The chief minister gave his closest aides – Srikant Sharma and Sidharth Nath Singh – the high-priority energy and medical health portfolios. Adityanath had made them government spokespersons on the very day he took over the chief minister’s office.
Keeping in mind former BJP state president Surya Pratap Shahi’s seniority in the party as well as the assembly, the chief minister gave him the agriculture, agricultural education and research portfolios. While Ramapati Shastri – a member of the scheduled caste – was given the SC/ST portfolio, Om Prakash Rajbhar was assigned to head the backward class welfare department.