Lucknow: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is likely to expand his Cabinet in February to induct half a dozen new ministers, including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s close confidante Arvind Kumar Sharma, who was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative assembly last week, before the Panchayat polls in March.
It will be the second Cabinet expansion of the Yogi Adityanath government. He had expanded his ministry earlier on August 22, 2019 after 29 months, inducting 23 more ministers taking the total number of ministers in his Cabinet to 56.
Unfortunately, two of his senior colleagues, former Test cricketer Chetan Chauhan and a technical education minister Kamal Rani Varun, succumbed to coronavirus last year, reducing the present strength of his Cabinet to 54.
A senior BJP functionary confided to the FPJ that the party State President Swatantra Dev Singh has been called to Delhi by the national President J.P.Nadda to discuss names of those working hard for the organization for rewarding them with a Cabinet berth.
The issue of the Cabinet expansion was already discussed by the Chief Minister when he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his last visit to Delhi. The CM had also discussed the issue with Nadda during the latter’s two-day visit to Lucknow recently.
Both the Central and State leadership of the party have agreed to reshuffle the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet by inducting dedicated party leaders to charge the ‘Team Yogi’ and the organization before launching ‘Mission 2022’.
During his meeting with Yogi Adityanath Cabinet, the National President had broadly hinted of ‘role reversal’ of some of ‘inactive’ ministers who are unable to keep pace with the Chief Minister and other Cabinet colleagues.
“One or two are likely to be dropped and given a role in the organization while 4 to 5 experienced leaders from the organization may be rewarded with Cabinet berths,” claimed the senior BJP leader, not wishing to be quoted.
The senior party functionary, however, ruled out any major shake-up, except for inducting a few and changing portfolios of a few, who are named in the report submitted to the party National President during his two-day visit.
At present, Yogi Adityanath has a 54-member Cabinet including 23 Cabinet ranks, nine with Independent Charges and 22 state ministers against the maximum limit of 60.
Sangeeta Chauhan, who was elected in by-polls after death of her husband Chetan Chauhan and Upendra Nath Paswan who won from Ghatampur (Reserved) after death of Technical Education minister Kamal Rani Varun in 2020 by-polls are stake-holders to claim a berth in the Cabinet.
Besides Modi’s ‘Man Friday’ Arvind Kumar Sharma, names of Salil Vishnoi, Lakshman Acharya and Vijay Pathak are going rounds in the BJP office, who may get a place in Yogi Adityanath Cabinet during the second expansion.
Party senior leader said that Sharma may not be made another Deputy Chief Minister against wishes of the CM but likely to get an important Home portfolio to oil law and order machinery and state bureaucracy before the 2022 Assembly polls.
“The CM already has two deputies. Dropping one of them to accommodate Sharma ji will give a wrong message. Moreover, the CM will have to part with Home, an important portfolio he was keeping with himself till now,” he opined.