New Delhi/Lucknow: Yogi Adityanath took oath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister for his second consecutive term at a mega event in Lucknow Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, a host of other CMs, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and several celebrities were in attendance.
A total of 52 leaders were also sworn in as ministers, including two deputy chief ministers (Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak), 16 cabinet ministers and 34 ministers of state. One Muslim face also made it to the council of ministers.
Almost 24 former ministers have been dropped in the new cabinet. Eleven former ministers had lost the assembly elections.
The new cabinet of the 49-year-old CM bore a clear imprint of Modi-Shah, reflected in the inclusion of more ex-civil servants, younger faces and a balanced caste mix to meet the regional aspirations and nurture leadership for the next 15 years as well as the 2024 general elections.
According to party sources, this is what had been conveyed to CM Adityanath by PM Modi during their meeting in the national capital after the election results were announced on 10 March, in which the BJP comfortably crossed the majority mark in the 403-member assembly.
The Delhi stamp
In the Uttar Pradesh cabinet list announced Friday, the stamp of the BJP High Command in New Delhi was fairly visible.
It was only a matter of time before A.K. Sharma, former principal secretary of Modi in the Gujarat CMO and later additional secretary in the PMO, was inducted as a cabinet minister. In April 2020, he was appointed as secretary in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. Last year, he took early retirement to join the BJP. First he was made an MLC and later the state BJP vice president.
“From day 1 we know that A.K. Sharma has the PM’s ear. Yogi was not ready for his induction in the cabinet last time but this time the whole cabinet is prepared by Delhi in consultation with the chief minister,” a source in the BJP told ThePrint.
“Amit Shah’s involvement has increased not only during selection of candidates and campaigning but also selection of ministers. Asim Arun is also Delhi’s choice for better efficiency in governance,” the source added.
Asim Arun, a former IPS officer who was the police commissioner of Kanpur, was inducted in the Adityanath cabinet as another Jatav face. He will be a minister of state.
In PM Modi’s Union cabinet, several retired civil servants serve as ministers, including S. Jaishanker, Hardeep Singh Puri (former diplomat), Ashwini Vaishnaw and R.K. Singh.
Keshav Prasad Maurya and Swatantra Dev Singh as OBC faces
The induction of Baby Rani Maurya as a cabinet minister was a clear decision of the central leadership, given the Jatav disengagement from the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and support to the BJP. This time, 19 Jatav MLAs won in the BJP alliance.
Before the election, on the suggestion of PM Modi, Maurya was asked to resign from the governorship of Uttarakhand to fight assembly elections from Agra, which is the Dalit capital of Uttar Pradesh.
Despite his loss in the assembly elections from Sirathu, the BJP High Command has accommodated Keshav Prasad Maurya as Deputy CM, keeping in mind that he is a homegrown OBC face of the party. The move seeks to keep the balance of the social coalition stitched by Amit Shah during his 2014-20 tenure as BJP chief.
According to sources, PM Modi considers electoral consideration more important than moral defeat. This is how Pushkar Singh Dhami also retained his chief ministerial position in Uttarakhand.
The Mauryas have a considerable (5-6 per cent) presence in UP politics, and 12 MLAs have won from the community in this election. However, it was the Maurya-Saini dominated eastern UP where Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) has performed better. Given that Yadav has quit the Lok Sabha to focus on a greater Opposition role in the state, the BJP High Command doesn’t want to disturb its own OBC faces.
Swatantra Dev Singh, a Kurmi OBC face who was chosen as BJP state president after the resignation of Keshav Prasad Maurya and has good chemistry with CMs in the BJP organisational set up, was also rewarded with a cabinet berth.
Women, new faces, a Muslim also inducted
Since women voters were a key factor behind the BJP’s victory in the state, the party has inducted four women ministers in the cabinet — Baby Rani Maurya, Vijay Laxmi Gautam, Pratibha Shukla and Rajni Tiwari.
Nitin Agarwal, son of popular Vaishya leader Naresh Agarwal, who was chosen deputy speaker in the previous assembly, has been made a minister of state due to his father’s support to the BJP.
BJP state vice president Dayashankar Singh, a Rajput face, has also been inducted in the council of ministers. His estranged wife Swati Singh was a minister in the first Adityanath cabinet.
BJP state vice president J.P.S. Rathore, an MTech from the Banaras Hindu University and in-charge of western UP, where the party performed well despite the farmers’ agitation, is another new face in the council of ministers.
Ashish Patel, husband of Apna Dal leader and Union minister Anupriya Patel, has found a place in the cabinet as an alliance partner nominee.
Danish Azad Ansari has become the part of the Yogi Adityanath government as the lone Muslim minister in the state. He has been made the Minister of State. The 32-year-old politician has been associated with the BJP since 2011. He is a commerce graduate from Lucknow University. The Balia leader has replaced Mohsin Raza, who was also the lone Muslim face in the previous council of ministers.