Ex-minister Chufal demands cabinet expansion in Uttarakhand to ‘maintain regional balance’
The discontent among senior BJP legislators is apparently visible even as the ruling party faces pressure from ministerial berth aspirants.Updated: Jan 08, 2018 18:25 IST
The discontent among senior BJP legislators is apparently visible even as the ruling party faces pressure from ministerial berth aspirants.
Former BJP state unit president Bishan Singh Chufal on Monday demanded cabinet expansion of the 9-month-old Trivendra Singh Rawat government to “maintain regional balance”.
Chufal is a Rajput leader and a five time legislator from Didihat constituency in Pithoragarh district. He was a minister in the BC Khanduri government. Later, he was appointed as the party state unit president.
Chufal was expecting ministerial berth after the BJP won 57 seats in the 70-member Uttarakhand assembly early last year. But his name was dropped to accommodate Prakash Pant, a Brahmin legislator from neighbouring Pithoragarh seat.
“A large number of party workers are disappointed owing to regional imbalance of the cabinet,” Chufal said in Pithoragarh. “Not even a single Rajput leader from Kumaon represents the government,” he added.
Chief minister Rawat has nine ministers in his cabinet. As far as caste combination is concerned, three ministers – Satpal Maharaj, Dhan Singh, Harak Singh - are Rajput while Madan Kaushik, Subodh Uniyal, Arvind Pande and Prakash Pant are Brahmin.
Rekhya Arya and Yashpal Arya represent Scheduled Caste community.
As far as representation from the region is concerned, five ministers and chief minister hail from Garhwal while Pant, Pande and both SC ministers are from Kumaon.
Chufal feels Kumaon has been slightly ignored in the cabinet.
Uttarakhand can have maximum 12 members, including chief minister, in the cabinet. Going by the number game, two positions are vacant in the cabinet.
Chufal accepted that he was also one of the aspirant for the ministerial berth and it was not him “but the party workers who complain about the negligence of region and caste”.
Chufal’s open claim to the ministerial berth has not gone well with the party which claims to be “disciplined”.
Party state unit president Ajay Bhatt said cabinet expansion was the chief minister’s prerogative. “The party will take right decision at the right time,” he told HT when asked about the Chufal’s statement.
Besides Chufal, party has senior legislators like Bansidhar Bhagat, Harbans Kapoor, Munna Singh Chauhan, Harbansh Cheema who are also in the queue.
Moreover, supporters of the two MLAs – Rajesh Shukla and Swami Yatishwaranand - have been seeking “respectful accommodation” as Shukla and Yatishwaranand defeated then chief minister Harish Rawat from Kiccha and Haridwar (rural) constituencies, respectively.
The party insiders say it was not possible to keep everyone happy therefore some of the senior legislators could be accommodated in the government corporations as the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons.
Between a section of the senior leaders are also in favour of keeping the cabinet expansion issue “lingering” as accommodating some and leaving many could have adverse affect on the party prospects in local body polls scheduled to be held in April.