Chhattisgarh CM expands Cabinet; 9 MLAs inducted
Raipur: In a first expansion of his Cabinet, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday inducted nine MLAs, including a woman legislator, as ministers.
With this, the strength of the Baghel-led Cabinet has gone up to 12.
While the state Congress leaders hailed the Cabinet expansion for giving representation to leaders from all sections and regions, the opposition BJP said it showed "differences" within the ruling party. Governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath of office to the new ministers during a function held at the Police Parade Ground here.
Senior Congress leader P L Punia, Chief Minister Baghel and other leaders were present on the occasion.
Two other Congress legislators - T S Singh Deo and Tamradhwaj Sahu - had taken oath as ministers on December 17, after Baghel was sworn in as the chief minister.
Those who took oath on Tuesday included Mohammad Akbar, Ravindra Choubey, Jaisingh Agrawal and Umesh Patel.
Four-time MLA and former minister Akbar is the lone Muslim face in the Cabinet. He won the recently held state election by the highest margin of 59,284 votes against his BJP rival in Kawardha seat, the home town of former chief minister Raman Singh.
Similarly, seven-time MLA Choubey is the lone member from the Brahmin community in the Cabinet.
Ravindra Choubey, who won from Saja seat, had served as minister in the Ajit Jogi-led Congress government in Chhattisgarh (2000-2003) and was earlier also the leader of opposition in the state assembly (2008-2013).
Second time MLA Umesh Patel, son of former state Congress chief Nandkumar Patel who was killed in the Maoist attack in Jhiram valley of Bastar in 2013, retained his Kharsia seat in the election.
Jaisingh Agrawal was elected for the third consecutive time from Korba seat.
Woman MLA Anila Bhedia, and Kawasi Lakhma and Premsai Singh Tekam were the tribal leaders inducted into the Cabinet.