Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav expanded his cabinet on Monday for the eighth time since he assumed office in March 2012.
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.
This comes after Social activist Nutan Thakur approached Governor Ram Naik with a petition to prevent Prajapati’s re-induction. “Prajapati had been removed as minister on serious corruption charges after the order of Allahabad High Court for CBI inquiry,” she said in her petition.
“A minister is removed from office under provisions of Article 164 of the Constitution, when he loses the pleasure of the governor.... when Prajapati was removed as minister, he had lost the pleasure of the governor and hence, he cannot be re-inducted in the ministry unless the facts and reasons on which he had lost the pleasure of the Governor get removed,” she said.
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. Prajapati takes oath of office and secrecy for the fourth time in the past three years.
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. Prajapati’s re-induction on the cards is a part of a compromise formula to douse the flames in the Yadav clan that took the hue of a major political crisis recently where Mulayam Singh Yadav removed his son, Akhilesh Yadav as state party chief and then the Chief Minister stripped his uncle Shivpal Yadav of four key portfolios.
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 percent 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.