New Delhi: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has appointed senior BJP leader Narottam Mishra as the Madhya Pradesh health minister, allocating the crucial portfolio 30 days after he assumed power on 23 March by toppling the previous Congress government in the state.
The Chouhan administration has been receiving flak for its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, especially as it had been functioning not only without a health minister but also a state cabinet. For 29 days, the state had a one-man cabinet, which the CM expanded Tuesday.
As of Wednesday morning, Madhya Pradesh has 1,552 coronavirus cases but its death toll of 76 is the third highest in the country after Maharashtra (251 deaths) and Gujarat (90).
Mishra was among the five MLAs inducted into the state Cabinet Tuesday.
“Narottamji has been appointed as the health minister to deal with Covid-19. He will be responsible for ensuring adequate testing is being carried out and that all required things are in place. He will also coordinate with other health officials,” Chouhan told reporters after the appointments. “He (Mishra) will also carry out all these meetings through video-conferencing. The task force that has been created will be in touch with them too. He will also be in touch with dharm gurus, industry bodies among others.”
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The other ministers
While Mishra has been made the health minister, he will also look after the home department. Kamal Patel has been made the agriculture minister while Meena Singh has been given tribal welfare department.
Tulsi Silawat and Govind Singh Rajput, two former Congress MLAs who left the Kamal Nath government in March, have also been allocated portfolios. Silawat, the health minister in the previous Congress government, has been given the water resources department while Govind Singh Rajput has been made the food processing minister.
A senior BJP leader told ThePrint Mishra getting such high-profile portfolios was due to the fact that he played a crucial role in “Operation Kamal” through which the BJP toppled the Kamal Nath government.
“The allocation of portfolios has made it amply clear that Mishra has the backing of the senior leadership and he will play a key role in the functioning of the government. He has managed to get two key portfolios: health and home,” said the senior BJP leader.
Mishra has served as a minister since Uma Bharati’s time as CM in 2003, and has handled the health portfolio as well.
The two former Congress MLAs, who joined the BJP along with others following high-profile former MP Jyotiarditya Scindia’s defection to the party, will not be too disappointed with the portfolio allocation, another BJP leader said.
“The food processing department is crucial as right from providing ration to interacting with the farmers, will be done by him (Rajput). With a number of migrants living in Madhya Pradesh, providing them with food is a big challenge,” the leader said. “Silawat has also been given the task of looking into school and higher education. All the welfare measures will be taken by him.”
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