The death of senior Samajwadi Party MLA Raja Ram Pandey on Thursday night has put off the Cabinet expansion plans of the 19-month-old Akhilesh Singh Yadav ministry in Uttar Pradesh.
After a gap of almost three months, chief minister Akhilesh Singh Yadav was expected to expand his Cabinet on Friday with the induction of a minister, the fifth such exercise since the formation of the government in March last year.
The chief minister cancelled the expansion programme following the sudden death of the Vishwanath Ganj (Pratpgarh) MLA who died of a heart attack on Thursday night in Lucknow.
Following cardiac problems, the MLA was rushed to a civil hospital from where he was immediately referred to the Lari Heart Centre. According to a party official close to the family, he died on the way to Lari hospital. His last rites will be performed at Sangam in Allahabad, the official added.
Pandey, who was the khadi minister in the previous Mulayam Singh Yadav government, was also inducted into the Akhilesh Yadav Cabinet last year. He, however, was removed following a controversy.
The last expansion of the ministry was held on October 11 when Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya was re-inducted after the CBI gave a clean chit to him in deputy superintendent of police Zia-ul-Haq murder case in Kunda.
With a total of 59 ministers, one Cabinet berth is still vacant. At present there are 22 Cabinet ministers, including the chief minister, six state ministers with independent charge and 31 ministers of state.
The possibility of elevating one or two junior ministers to Cabinet rank was also not ruled out by the ruling Samajwadi Party.
(With PTI inputs)