Analysis: BJP Central leadership’s hand visible in M.P. Cabinet expansion

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan holds a Cabinet meeting after its expansion, in Bhopal on July 2, 2020.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan holds a Cabinet meeting after its expansion, in Bhopal on July 2, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Of 28 Ministers who took the oath, the lion’s share went to Scindia’s camp

The expansion of the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet on Thursday came more than three months after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took the oath and demonstrated the rather long shadow that the BJP’s central leadership has cast on the State unit.

Also read: Nine Scindia supporters get berth, as MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan expands Ministry

Of the 28 Ministers who took the oath (20 as Cabinet Ministers and eight as Ministers of State), the lion’s share went to former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia’s camp. Nine Ministers, all loyalists of Mr. Scindia, were sworn in, as were three other former Congressmen not allied to Mr. Scindia but who defected to the BJP in the same cohort group in February.

Mr. Chouhan, who camped in Delhi for more than two days this week to finalise the list, inducted five of his known loyalists (out of nine who had served under him earlier), while scoring a point against BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya by inducting Usha Thakur instead of Ramesh Mendola from Indore who was being pushed by Mr. Vijayvargiya.

Also read: Madhya Pradesh crisis | Scindia’s entry will strengthen BJP, says Chouhan

The whole exercise was undertaken under the shadow of the leadership in Delhi and its stamp on the Cabinet is visible. Mr. Chouhan had tried to get his people in, but came up against two impediments. According to those involved at the meetings in Delhi to finalise the list, Mr. Scindia was quite firm that his loyalists should be accommodated in large numbers, since that was the main reason he walked out of the Congress in March. The second was the BJP’s central leadership, which saw Mr. Chouhan’s return as Chief Minister as the result of its strategising rather than the Chief Minister’s efforts and therefore felt it was within its authority to have a big say on who got into the Cabinet.

As the BJP’s central leadership and Mr. Scindia stood firm at the meetings, the new Cabinet is a mixed bag for Mr. Chouhan. According to those in the know, it reflects what has been on for some time. “Delhi’s hand is quite visible in the appointment of BJP State unit chief V.D. Sharma, a first-term MP, and the inclusion of Narottam Mishra in the first set of Ministers to be sworn in a couple of months ago,” a source said. For 15 years, Mr. Chouhan held the reins of the State unit; with this Cabinet expansion, it is clear that his grip has loosened.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 11:47:53 AM |

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