Patna: Sacked a fortnight ago on corruption charges, controversial former minister Gayatri Prajapati made a comeback on Monday as chief minister Akhilesh Yadav expanded his cabinet for the eight time. Also making a comeback to the cabinet are Manoj Pandey and Shivakant Ojha while Ziauddin Rizvi, who had been inducted in previous expansion in June but could not take oath, was the fourth addition to ministry.
The chief minister also elevated six junior ministers to the cabinet rank while one – Laxmikant Nishad 'Pappu' was sacked. Out of 10 ministers who took oath at the Raj Bhawan on Monday, three are Brahmins and three Muslims. The six junior ministers who have been given cabinet rank are: Abkhshek Mishra, Yasir Shah, Narendra Verma, Shankhlal Majhi, Haji Riyaz and Ravidas Mehrotra. With Monday's expansion the strength of ministry has reached maximum – 60.
UP now has 33 cabinet minister, nine ministers of state with independent charge and 18 ministers of state. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and senior minister Shivpal Yadav were also present at the ceremony when governor Ram Naik administered the oath to ministers. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav who was in Ghazipur for an official function in the morning came back to take part in the ceremony which was delayed by an hour.
Political analysts say that in the expansion exercise, the ruling party has chosen to give weight to its traditional Muslim and OBC support base and simultaneously sending a strong message to the Brahmins too, who have not been committed followers of the party. In a bid to counter Congress and BSP's bid to overtly woo Brahmins by projecting Shiela Dixit and holding Brahmin sabhas, the ruling party also seems to have joined the race by elevating three ministers from the caste to the cabinet rank.