Uttarakhand CM likely to fill two cabinet posts before civic pollsdehradun Updated: Dec 31, 2017 19:10 IST
The two berths in the cabinet have been lying vacant since CM Trivendra Singh Rawat and 10 other ministers were sworn in on March 18, 2017.(HT Photo)
Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is likely to fill the two Cabinet berths soon in a bid to placate angry BJP leaders ahead of the urban local body polls, likely to be held in April in Uttarakhand.
The two berths have been lying vacant ever since Rawat announced his Cabinet over nine months ago. There are reports that he may distribute the Cabinet positions among the party workers “anytime” before the urban local body polls.
“Cabinet-rank positions will be distributed among party workers ahead of the urban local body polls…However, only those positions will be filled, which we feel absolutely necessary to fill” Ajay Bhatt, the state BJP president, told HT. He admitted that the party’s rank and file “too have been mounting pressure on the state leadership” to distribute Cabinet positions among them.
“Awarding party workers such (Cabinet) positions will infuse in them a new energy in the New Year,” Bhatt said.
However, he did not rule out the possibility of long-pending Cabinet expansion also taking place ahead of the urban local body polls. “Anything is possible in the New Year,” Bhatt remarked, when asked if the two Cabinet berths lying vacant would be filled ahead of the local body polls. He, however, clarified that effecting a Cabinet rejig was the CM’s prerogative.
The two berths have been lying vacant ever since the CM, along with his 10-member Cabinet, was sworn in on March 18 last year, following the BJP’s landslide win in the assembly elections. No wonder, the majority of the remaining 47 of the total 57 BJP legislators, who failed to find a ministerial berth, are said to be unhappy.
Rawat has nine ministers in the Council of Ministers headed by him. According to the constitutional provisions, he can induct two more ministers in his 10-member Cabinet, the total strength of which can’t go beyond 15% of the assembly’s total strength of 70 MLAs.
However, it would be a tough call for Rawat with a large number of BJP legislators eyeing the two Cabinet berths. In fact, the discontent had started brewing among senior legislators soon after Rawat formed his Cabinet, as he failed to strike a regional and caste balance. Besides, it (Cabinet) included more legislators from Garhwal than Kumaon, BJP insiders said. Similarly, the composition of the Cabinet is heavily skewed in favour of the legislators belonging to the Thakur caste. And all of them, including the chief minister himself, are from Garhwal and that too from one district (Pauri) in that region.
No wonder, discontent soon came out in the open with supporters of the senior BJP leader and former assembly speaker, Harbans Kapoor holding a demonstration in Dehradun demanding his inclusion in the Cabinet. Another party veteran and former Cabinet minister BS Chufal too was stated to be unhappy. Then, some 26 BJP legislators having a closed-door meeting in a hotel on the city outskirt sparked the rumours that they too were unhappy over their failure to find a Cabinet berth. The meeting took place just three months after the CM formed his Cabinet. The discontent among the BJP legislators is reportedly growing.
Officially, the BJP downplayed all such rumours. “Some legislators aspiring for the Cabinet berths may be unhappy, but most of them stand solidly behind the party and the chief minister,” said senior BJP leader Vinay Goyal. He also refuted the rumours that party workers aspiring for the Cabinet positions too are unhappy. “There is no substance in such rumours,” he said.