Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday expanded his Cabinet for the eighth and possibly the last time, before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2017. Ten new ministers were sworn in, out of which seven got the Cabinet rank and three were made ministers of state.
The swearing-in of 10 new ministers, including Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, Manoj Pandey and Shivakant Ojha, who were all sacked by the Chief Minister earlier, was conducted at Raj Bhavan by Governor Ram Naik. Out of the 10, seven were accorded the cabinet rank and three ministers of state.
The expansion has a stamp of the old guard — Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Singh, as the duo has overturned the sacking of three ministers, including Gayatri Prajapati, who was accused of being involved in illegal mining and land grabbing.
Akhilesh Yadav, who won public accolade for sacking the ministers, has been embarrassed by swearing-in of Gayatri Prajapati, whose re-induction in the state cabinet was announced by his father and Samajwadi Party chairman Mulayam Singh Yadav a few days back.
State minister Abhishek Mishra has been elevated as a cabinet minister and is likely to be one of the Brahmin faces along with Manoj Pandey and Shivakant Ojha. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress have been wooing the Brahmins ahead of the state assembly polls, slated for early 2017.
Other ministers who were also sworn-in included Ravidas Mehrotra, Narendra Verma, Ziya-ud-din Rizvi, Shankhlal Majhi, Riyaz Ahmad and Yaseer Shah. With Monday’s expansion, the number of ministers in the state government rose to 61, one more than the 60-minister ceiling, set in ratio of 15 per cent of the total assembly strength.
However, minutes later, Minister of State Laxmikant Nishad was sacked, bringing the head count of ministers back to 60. Mulayam Singh Yadav, his younger brother and state unit chief Shivpal Singh Yadav were among other dignitaries who attended the swearing-in.