UP ministry expansion: Prajapati reinducted, Oppn parties cry foul
Tainted former Uttar Pradesh Mines Minister Gayatri Prajapati was on Monday reinducted into the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet in an apparent attempt by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to bridge the widening chasm in his family, drawing instant flak from the opposition parties.
Besides Prajapati, against whose reinduction a social activist had petitioned the Governor, three others were sworn in, while six MoS were also elevated to the cabinet rank in what is perhaps the last expansion of the Akhilesh Yadav ministry before the 2017 assembly polls.
Governor Ram Naik administered the oath of office and secrecy to Manoj Pandey, Shivakant Ojha and Ziauddin Rizvi, besides Prajapati at the Raj Bhawan here. Rizvi was not able to take oath in June when the cabinet was last expanded as he was abroad.
Three MoS (Independent Charge) Riaz Ahmed, Yasir Shah and Ravidas Mehtrotra, and Ministers of State Abhishek Mishra, Narendra Verma and Shankhlal Majhi were elevated to cabinet rank.
Raj Kishore Singh, who too was dropped along with Prajapati, was not included. Prajapati was considered close to Akhilesh’s uncle and state party chief Shivpal Yadav.
Ahead of the swearing-in function, Akhilesh dropped MoS Food Lakshmikant alias Pappu Nishad.
Much to the amusement of those present at the Raj Bhawan, a beaming Prajapati sat at the feet of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav for photo journalists. Besides touching the feet of Mulayam before and after taking oath, he also bent down to touch the feet of Akhilesh after being sworn-in. After the brief function, Mulayam told reporters that he had recommended Prajapati’s name for re-induction and “the chief minister accepted it”.
“Moreover, the backward class leader is a hardworking and loyal soldier of the party,” he said. Mulayam’s cousin and Rajya Sabha member Ramgopal Yadav, who is close to Akhilesh, was conspicuous by his absence at the Raj Bhawan.
The Akhilesh ministry now comprises 32 cabinet ministers, 9 MoS (Independent charge) and 19 MoS. This was the eighth expansion of the Akhilesh Yadav government since it assumed office in 2012. The UP council of ministers now has the maximum permissible strength of 60 ministers.
Hours after Prajapati re-joined Akhilesh’s team, opposition parties reacted on expected lines with BSP, BJP and Congress ridiculing the chief minister for his “sudden change of mind”.
BSP supremo Mayawati said Akhilesh Yadav’s U-turn showed he was a “weak CM”.
Slamming Akhilesh Yadav on the issue, BJP said it proved the nexus the UP chief minister has with the corrupt and demanded his immediate resignation. “There is a strong alliance between the Akhilesh Yadav government and corruption which has been proved today with reinduction of Prajapati in his Cabinet. It is clear that samajwad has been converted into corruption and Yadav is the chief of tainted and corrupt ministers,” BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.