Led by Yogi Adityanath, BJP returned to power for a second consecutive term in Uttar Pradesh with a full majority – a feat achieved for the first time in 37 years. Following the swearing-in of Adityanath as the chief minister of India’s most populous state, the keenly awaited allocation of ministerial portfolios has been announced.
The exercise reflects the BJP's tradition of a periodic overhauls.
26 ministers have been dropped, including some heavyweights from the previous cabinet and at least 31 fresh faces have been introduced. Further, the portfolios of high-profile ministers have also been shuffled.
The most prominent change has been in the allocation of the Public Works Department (PWD). The key portfolio which was held by UP’s Deputy CM, Keshav Prasad Maurya has now been allotted to Jitin Prasada, an ex-Congressman. Notably, Prasada switched parties back in June 2021 and was given a cabinet berth in the month of September.
Several factors are being cited for Prasada’s elevation with the allotment of a heavy-weight portfolio.
According to this report in Hindustan, when Maurya was in charge of the PWD, various procedures were introduced to make the tender process transparent, and yet the department found itself linked to allegations and counter-allegations. According to the report, Prasad's tenure as a Union Minister in the UPA government did not see his name dragged into any allegation or controversy and that is said to have been the main reason that the Public Works Department was allocated to Prasada.
This report in Dainik Jagran also mentions that Prasada was the Union Minister of State for Surface Transport in the second term of the UPA government, and that his experience was taken into consideration before giving him the charge of PWD.
To begin with, the PWD ministry has traditionally been with the leader who is regarded as 'No. 2' in the government. When Kumari Mayawati was the CM, it was with Naseemuddin Siddiqui; when Akhilesh Yadav was the CM, it was with Shivpal Yadav; and in Adityanath's previous tenure, it was with Keshav Prasad Maurya. In effect, implies the Aaj Tak report, Prasada's profile has been increased multifold.
The report then goes on to cite Prasada's non-controversial and transparent image as a Union Minister during the UPA era as one of the main reasons his promotion.
The Aaj Tak report also mentions that one of the reasons Prasada has been given the PWD department is that the party leadership wants to break the 'nexus' that exists between contractors in Uttar Pradesh.
Apart from this, the report also sees Prasada's elevation as a message that the BJP is sending to leaders in other parties: that they will get their due in the BJP, should they decide to join it.
Apart from this, Prasada being a prominent Brahmin face for the BJP also seems to have gone in his favour. Readers may note that Prasada had joined the BJP at time when a narrative was gaining ground that the Brahmins of Uttar Pradesh are disgruntled with the BJP.
Prasada was part of many 'Prabuddh Sammelans' which the BJP organised as part of its outreach to the Brahmins.
Ultimately, the party performed exceedingly well in the regions where Prasada is said to enjoy popular support, namely Shahjahanpur, Lakhimpur, Sitapur, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Bahraich.
Other allocation in Yogi 2.0
Keshav Prasad Maurya who lost the elections from Sirathu has been retained as a Deputy CM and now holds the charge of six ministries including Rural Development and Food Processing.
Brajesh Pathak, who joined the BJP in 2016, has also been named as the Deputy CM with the responsibility of medical education, medical and health, family welfare and maternal and child welfare departments.
As the only woman in the rank of a Cabinet minister, Baby Rani Maurya has been named the Minister of Women Welfare, Child Development and Nutrition.
Jal Shakti Ministry has been allotted to the senior partyman Swatantra Dev Singh.
Arvind Kumar Sharma, who is said to enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister and is a bureaucrat-turned-politician, has been given the charge of five portfolios including Urban Development and Energy.
Suresh Khanna, in continuation of his previous responsibilities, has been allotted Finance and Parliamentary Affairs.
As for BJP’s allies in UP, Sanjay Nishad of Nishad Party got Fisheries and the Technical Education department went to Apna Dal (Sonelal) leader Ashish Patel. Amongst the minorities, Baldev Singh Aulakh has been named MoS (independent charge) for Agriculture and Agriculture Education. Danish Azad Ansari has been made MoS in Minorities Welfare, Waqf, and Haj departments.
The Chief Minister has retained 34 departments under his own supervision. These include Home, Vigilance, Personnel, Revenue, General Administration, Institutional Finance, Justice, and Students departments.
While there have been surprise inductions and appointments, there have also been surprising omissions from the previous cabinet. Dinesh Sharma who was a Deputy CM has altogether been dropped from the cabinet. Neelkanth Tiwari, MLA from Varanasi South didn’t find a place in the cabinet. Satish Mahana who was the Infrastructure and Industrial Development Minister has not been included in the new cabinet. Shrikant Sharma who defeated Congress’ Pradeep Mathur from Mathura by a massive margin of 1,09,803 votes also failed to secure a ministerial berth. He was Energy Minister in the first term, a portfolio which has now gone to Arvind Kumar Sharma.
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