The clean-up of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s council of ministers was expected as his father, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, had publicly upbraided his son for poor governance.
The chief minister gave no reasons for his decision on Thursday to dismiss eight ministers and divest nine more of their portfolios but those against whom action was taken have been accused of lapses ranging from non-performance to hobnobbing with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The government was in the know of their activities and was waiting to strike, say Samajwadi Party leaders familiar with the developments.
Akhilesh Yadav’s move is clearly aimed at going to the 2017 assembly polls with a new-look ministry and trashing the nagging taunt of “father and uncles” running his show.
Here is a look at some of the controversial ministers who were either dismissed or divested of their portfolios.
1. Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh (former civil defence minister) – accused of non-performance and hobnobbing with the BJP.
2. Ambika Chaudhary (former backward class welfare minister) – accused of non-performance. Originally held the revenue portfolio but fell from grace and was made in-charge of the handicapped department – a low-profile ministry - because of complaints of alleged land-grabbing against him in his home constituency of Ballia.
3. Narad Rai (former khadi and village industries minister) – faced a Lokayukta probe for having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.
4. Shivakant Ojha (former technical education minister) – accused of hobnobbing with the BJP. The minister from Pratapgarh was also a lacklustre performer and rumours he was grooming his son to enter politics seem to have sealed his fate.
5. Yogesh Pratap Singh (former minister of state for basic education) – removed because of infighting in his constituency.
6. Bhagwat Sharan Gangwar (former minister of state for micro, small and medium enterprises) – removed due to his poor performance and the Samajwadi Party failing to recover ground in his constituency.
7. Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya (divested of food and civil supplies fortfolio) – faced a CBI probe for the murder of deputy superintendent of police Zia ul Haq.
8. Mehboob Ali (divested of secondary education portfolio) – accused of irregularities in setting up examination centres for the Uttar Pradesh board examinations.
But observers described the chief minister’s much hyped clean-up exercise as a mission half accomplished as some controversial ministers continue to remain in his council of ministers.
Among them are mining minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, who faces charges of corruption and a Lokayukta probe for alleged irregularities in allocating mining contracts, and minister of state for secondary education Vinod Singh alias Pandit Singh, who faced charges of kidnapping the chief medical officer of Gonda.