New Delhi: With Madhya Pradesh witnessing an alarming surge in coronavirus cases and Indore emerging as one of the worst-affected hotpots in the country, the central BJP leadership is rethinking its earlier decision of appointing the Madhya Pradesh cabinet only after the end of the lockdown, ThePrint has learnt.
The party high command had earlier decided not to appoint ministers and allow Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan alone to manage the affairs of the state. Chouhan has been acting as a one-man cabinet since 23 March when he was appointed as the chief minister, a day before national lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Madhya Pradesh is reeling under a crisis and at this point, not having a health minister or other cabinet ministers is reflecting poorly on the government as well as the party,” said a senior BJP leader.
The Madhya Pradesh government has received flak for its handling of the crisis. The state has 1,120 active Covid-19 cases as of Friday morning but its toll of 53 deaths is the second highest in the country after Maharashtra.
Cabinet may be in place after 20 April
According to another BJP leader, the party is now open to the idea of putting in place a cabinet after 20 April, when the lockdown is expected to be relaxed in some parts of the country.
“After 20 April, a number of activities will become operational and once that is done, to carry out the administrative and policy decision work, the state would require more ministers,” the leader said. “Which is why it is being suggested that the cabinet can be expanded after that. But a final decision is yet to be taken.”
Due to the criticism the government faced, the state BJP had formed a Covid-19 task force headed by its chief and MP V.D. Sharma. There has, however, been a clamour from a number of MLAs and other state unit leaders that a few ministers, especially for the health and public works departments, should be appointed to aid Chouhan and help strategise better.
“It is imperative that more ministers are appointed to help the CM as the task force cant interfere in government functioning. Not having a health minister during such a pandemic is also a major issue and the government is being criticised for it,” said a senior state BJP leader.