BY CHANDRAKANT NAIDU
Bhopal, July 2 (IANS) With 14 non-MLAs bagging ministerial berths, the 33-member BJP ministry in Madhya Pradesh has the look of Jyotiradiya Scindia’s team with Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the “caretaker Chief Minister”.
The BJP refuses to admit it, but it is saddled with a horrible bargain. Thursday’s expansion took 100 days to materialise and has left the party with a tall order of winning the by-elections for most of the 24 seats. The entire exercise has been by-election centric.
In the process, the BJP leadership has created many dissidents. Former Chief Minister Uma Bharti was also disappointed with the latest expansion. She said she had written to party Vice President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and state unit President V.D. Sharma about the lack of regional and caste balance in the team.
The other key faction leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is seen as Home Minister Amit Shah’s point person in MP has also been left high and dry. His protege Ramesh Maindola has been left out while Usha Thakur from the camp opposed to him is in. Thakur is seen as a Rajnath Singh loyalist.
Narottam Mishra who is being promoted as a counter power centre against Chouhan has been denied the Deputy Chief Minister’s berth, apparently because Scindia was insisting on Tulsi Silawat to be made a Deputy CM too. Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar who has no love lost for Scindia is not pleased with the team either.
Chouhan failed to have his way with senior loyalists Rampal Singh, Rajendra Shukla, Gaurishanker Bisen and Sanjay Pathak being left out. Scindia, who plotted the fall of the Kamal Nath-led government to facilitate the return of the BJP to power just after a 15-month gap, now has 14 ex-MLAs in the ministry. The BJP leadership claims it has tried to take the party forward with a judicious mixture of youth and experience.
Some BJP leaders feel Scindia would drive the Chouhan government from the back seat. “After some days, Scindia will become MP Chief Minister,” a senior BJP MLA close to Chouhan, said sarcastically.
But as the BJP owes Scindia its new innings, it is not surprising to find him calling the shots. The allocation of portfolios to the ministers will further reflect the clout different leaders hold in the ministry.
Dr Keshav Pandey a Scindia loyalist says it was only expected that there would be more ministers from Gwalior-Chambal region as 16 out of 24 assembly seats going to by-elections are from this region. Seven from Scindia’s camp and three BJP MLAs –Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Arvind Bhandoria, and Bharat Singh Kushwaha — have been made ministers from the region, he said.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Kamal Nath said never did the state have a ministry where 14 of 33 members are non-MLAs. “This is distortion of constitutional provisions and a cruel joke on the electorate,” he said, adding that he was “personally very sad to not to find many qualified, experienced, loyal BJP in the cabinet”.
Congress Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha said: “I congratulate team BJP and former Congress colleagues for becoming ministers. Can’t offer them best wishes though. People who achieve power by unethical means will never receive my best wishes. This is not an elected government but a manufactured one”.
BY CHANDRAKANT NAIDU