- 28 new ministers joined the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government
- Several loyalists of Jyotiraditya Scindia among ministers sworn in today
- The cabinet expansion had been due since March
Twenty-eight new ministers joined the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh today and a significant number of former Congress leaders among them established Jyotiraditya Scindia's stamp in the cabinet expansion that had been delayed for months over the fight for ministries.
Several loyalists of Jyotiraditya Scindia, a long-time Congress leader who switched to the BJP in March, were among the ministers sworn in today. Mr Scindia's aunt Yashodhara Raje Scindia, a BJP leader, was also included in the cabinet.
Sources say Shivraj Singh Chouhan was forced to stand down on many candidates he had suggested to the party leadership.
"Manthan se toh amrit hi nikalta hai, vish toh Shiv pee jaatein hain (nectar is produced only when there is a churning, and Lord Shiv must drink the poison)," Mr Chouhan said on Wednesday. The statement, playing on the Chief Minister's name, was interpreted as an admission that his new team may not include the ministers he wanted.
This morning, the Chief Minister tweeted a conciliatory message: "I congratulate all the ministers who took oath today. We all will work together to achieve our common goals of development and public welfare in Madhya Pradesh. I am confident that I will get your full support in bringing new reforms."
So did Jyotiraditya Scindia.
The cabinet expansion had been due since March, when the Congress lost power to the BJP after 22 rebels quit along with Jyotiraditya Scindia, once a close aide of Rahul Gandhi.
The government had functioned with five ministers since mid-April. Even they were inducted nearly a month after Mr Chouhan took oath in March.
The delay was officially attributed to the coronavirus lockdown and the Rajya Sabha election. Behind the scenes, however, there were raging disagreements over the allocation of ministries between the BJP and the former Congressmen who expected to be rewarded for bringing down the Congress government led by Kamal Nath.
Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath seized the chance to aim a swipe at Mr Chouhan at the BJP. "I feel very sad at not finding many able, dedicated and senior BJP MLAs in today's cabinet expansion," the Congress leader tweeted in Hindi, reinforcing speculation that Mr Chouhan lost out in his very first tug-of-war with bitter rival-turned-colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia.