After virtually dismantling the party in the wake of its worst ever performance in the Lok Sabha elections — winning just 5 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh this time — it was evident that the Samajwadi Party would shake up its government sooner rather than later.
But what came as a surprise was the sacking of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s one-time favourite Pawan Pandey, minister of state for entertainment tax, and changing of portfolios of 16 of the 60 ministers in the Akhilesh Yadav government.
Eight ministers have been divested of important portfolios while eight have got departments considered more prestigious. Along with Pandey, the eight others have been ‘punished’ for failing to win their constituencies and for non-performance as ministers, sources said.
Pandey, 31, was dropped because of his high-handed behaviour, particularly against a young IPS officer, sources said.
With Akhilesh taking charge of many of the portfolios of other ministers in a reshuffle late on Tuesday night, another rejig is expected after the budget session of the assembly beginning on Thursday. “The party will bring in some new faces to represent regions and communities that did not get a place in ministry so far,” a senior minister said. The CM now holds 57 portfolios and is expected to shed some in the next reshuffle.
This is the first time that Mulayam, who had so far been issuing verbal warnings to errant ministers, has taken firm action. However, some senior ministers who had embarrassed the party through their statements have been spared.
Amongst the senior ministers, Balram Yadav from Azamgarh was ‘punished’ for failing to ensure a big victory margin for Mulayam from the constituency.
Cabinet ministers Ram Govind Chowdharyand Narad Rai paid for failing to retain the Ballia seat for the party.