Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday revamped his council of ministers by inducting 12 new ministers and elevating 9 ministers of state, including those with independent charge, to give it a younger look with a new caste and regional equilibrium.
The swearing-in ceremony of these new minister began with governor Ram Naik, CM Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav garlanding the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 140th birth anniversary.
Naik then administered oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Gandhi Sabhagar of Raj Bhawan in the state capital of Lucknow.
The promotions of the ministers of state to the ranks of cabinet minister and minister of state (independent charge) gave an indication towards the chief minister’s attempt to reward good work after he cracked the whip and dismissed eight ministers on Thursday.
Those inducted as cabinet ministers include Arvind Singh Gope, Kamal Akhtar, Vinod Singh alias Pandit Singh, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and Saheb Singh Saini. Those sworn-in as ministers of state (independent charge) include Riyaz Ahmad, Farid Mehfooj Kidwai, Mool Chand Chauhan, Nitin Agarwal, Yasser Shah, Madan Chauhan and Sadab Fatima.
Those inducted as ministers of state include Radhey Shyam Singh, Shailendra Yadav Lalai, Onkar Singh Yadav, Tej Narain Pandey alias Pawan Pandey, Sudhir Kumar Rawat Laxmikant alias Pappu Nishad and Vanshi Dhar Gaur.
A cursory glance at the new council of ministers indicates that the chief minister has tried to keep the upper castes in good humour. At the same time, it also has an apparent pro-backward class tilt.
This is one of the biggest reshuffles that the 43-month-old Akhilesh Yadav government has seen before Uttar Pradesh goes to polls in 2017.
The ministerial revamp, with a distinct Akhilesh stamp, is also being seen as a cleaning exercise by the SP as the poll battleground is set to shift from Bihar to UP, where the BJP pulverised the ruling party in the 2014 Lok Sabha election by winning 71 seats.
The perception is that the Bihar outcome, to be out on November 8, will bear down on UP as the BJP will go all out to retain its 2014 feat.
The clean-up was on the way as SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had publicly upbraided son Akhilesh for poor governance and warned non-performing ministers.
Mulayam’s censure cleared the way for Akhilesh to crack the whip, especially on ministers belonging to the old guard and considered close to his father. There were also allegations that some ministers were secretly slanting towards the BJP.
A chunk of his axed colleagues is facing charges of corruption and non-performance, but Akhilesh could find it difficult to justify his decision to cling to some controversial ministers.
The revamp gives him the opportunity to shake off canards that have been shadowing him since he took over from his father in 2012 — that the state got a “young CM with an old cabinet” and “father and uncles” run the show.