A full-fledged cabinet was finally sworn-in in Madhya Pradesh on July 2, more than 100 days after Shivraj Singh Chouhan took the oath as Chief Minister, dislodging the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government. A smaller cabinet induction took place on April 21 in which five ministers had taken the oath.
The pulls, pressures and delays witnessed in forming the cabinet laid bare the differences within the BJP leadership on the MLAs to be included as ministers, besides the balance to be struck while accommodating the new arrivals in the BJP- 22 former Congress MLAs whose resignations actually led to the fall of the Kamal Nath government. 14 out of the 22 former MLAs have been rewarded for their shift in loyalty. Of these ten hold cabinet rank and four are ministers of state. In the process, a number of senior BJP MLAs have had to wait out of the cabinet. Also, the emphasis on inclusion from the Gwalior Chambal region, where 16 out of the 24 assembly seats where by-polls are to be held are located- has resulted in caste and regional representation going for a toss.
Sample this: 11 ministers in the 34 member cabinet (33 ministers and CM) are from the Gwalior Chambal region that has a total of 34 assembly segments. The remaining 23 ministers and CM hail from the Malwa, Mahakoshal, Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand regions. The big take away from the cabinet expansion is that Jyotiraditya Scindia was successful in driving a hard bargain within his new party- the BJP. Scindia managed to get in 11 loyalists as ministers in the cabinet, which is a step up from his days in the Congress when he had managed to get in six loyalists in the Kamal Nath cabinet. While morally, one may not agree with switching sides by MLAs in exchange for being rewarded with cabinet berths, but at a political level, Scindia pulled off a smooth coup- from getting his loyalists to quit the Congress and to get them into a BJP cabinet. Scindia’s aunt Yashodhara Raje from the BJP has also been appointed a minister.
Accommodating Scindia loyalists in the cabinet also took a toll on caste representation. While the Thakur community is over-represented with 8 ministers, SC, ST and backward communities are underrepresented as per their population percentage in Madhya Pradesh. This is something the Congress would be keen to exploit in the upcoming by-polls in the state as nearly half a dozen seats where by-polls are due are reserved for the SC community.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)