A day after the Election Commission announced the schedule for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, Chief Minister Mayawati sacked four ministers, including two of Cabinet rank.

With these ousters, the number of ministers she has sacked has gone up to nine.

Those removed on Sunday are Rakesh Dhar Tripathi (Higher Education), Rajpal Tyagi (Agricultural Education and Agricultural Research), Minister of State (Independent charge) for Backward Classes Welfare Avdesh Kumar Verma and Minister of State for Home Guards and Prantiya Rakshak Dal Hari Om.

No official reason has been assigned for their ouster. A notification issued by Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh said Governor B.L. Joshi, on the advice of the Chief Minister, had relieved these ministers of their charge.

The departments held by them have been given as additional charge to PWD and Irrigation Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Social Welfare Minister Indrajit Saroj and Agriculture Minister Chaudhary Laxmi Narain.

Weeding out exercise

Ms. Mayawati's decision caught the ruling BSP circles by surprise. However, according to informed sources, some more heads are likely to roll in the days to come as the Chief Minister had begun to weed out controversial figures in her ministry and government.

The ministers who were removed on Sunday, through their activities, tarnished the image of the government. They were also in touch with leaders of other parties, the sources said.

In fact, none of the dismissed ministers was given ticket to contest the Assembly polls.

Earlier, Ms. Mayawati dismissed Rajesh Tripathi, Rangnath Mishra, Avadhpal Singh Yadav, Badshah Singh and Ratan Lal Ahirwar following their indictment by the Lokayukta on corruption charges.