CM retains Ministers being probed by the Lokayukta

The first batch of 23 ministers, including four ministers of State, were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav at Raj Bhavan on Saturday. The rest are expected to be sworn in after Lok Sabha polls next year, sources in the BJP said, in order to ensure that leaders campaign in full earnest.

A maximum of 35 Minister can be sworn in from the 230-member Assembly.

Decisive victory

Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, who led the party to a decisive victory for the third consecutive time, is learnt to have been given a free hand in the selection of ministers. Though at his swearing-in ceremony on December 14 Mr. Chouhan promised “zero tolerance” against corruption, 10-time MLA Babulal Gaur, the BJP chief in Malwa Kailash Vijayvargiya and the former Finance Minister Jayant Malaiya — who are being probed by the Lokayukta in corruption cases — have been retained. So has the party’s strongman in Rewa, Rajendra Shukla, whose name appears in a diary of mining baron Sudhir Sharma — whom the Special Task Force is looking for.

Defection-and-rebellion troubleshooter Narottam Mishra, accused by the Election Commission of engaging in paid news, also found a place in the new Cabinet.

Linked to royal family

Former MPs Yashodhara Scindia and Maya Singh, both linked to the Gwalior royal family, found a place in the Cabinet. Also, former ministers Gaurishankar Shejwar, Kusum Mehdele and Rampal Singh were also sworn-in.

Two Ministers-of-State berths were taken by the scions of two former Chief Ministers of the State.

Deepak Joshi, the son of Kailash Joshi and Surendra Patwa, the nephew of Sunderlal Patwa were sworn in as the MoS along with Dalit leader Lal Singh Arya and Jabalpur-based lawyer Sharad Jain.

Surprisingly, Vishwas, former BJP MP Kailash Sarang’s son Vishwas — who manages the party’s Bhopal muscle — did not find a place in the Council of Ministers despite being elected for the third time.

K.D. Deshmukh, who gave up his Lok Sabha seat of Balaghat after being elected MLA from Katangi, is the only ex-MP not to be sworn in.

Continuity more apparent

With the choice of ministers, continuity is more apparent than change.

The only ministers of the previous Cabinet who have not found a place this time are Ranjana Baghel, Archana Chitnis, Tukojirao Puar, Mahendra Hardia and Jagdish Devda. Ms. Baghel was photographed allegedly distributing cash during the poll campaign and Ms. Chitnis, the former School Education Minister, was in the news for introducing the Bhagavad Gita in Urdu school text books.

Mr. Devda had come out in support of Jal Satyagrahis, who were protesting against the Indira Sagar Dam.

Cabinet meeting held

A formal Cabinet meeting took place at the Mantralaya soon after the swearing-in. On Sunday, the Cabinet will meet in the teak forests of Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary, near here, for work and recreation.