Day After Oath As UP Ministers, Jitin Prasada, Six Others Get Portfolios

Coming months ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the cabinet expansion has poll arithmetic written all over it

A former Union Minister, Jitin Prasada has denied that the state cabinet rank is a comedown

Lucknow:

Congress-turned-BJP leader Jitin Prasada has been appointed cabinet minister for Technical Education in Uttar Pradesh government after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expanded his team ahead of the Assembly polls next year.

Six other MLAs who took oath as ministers have also been allotted portfolios.

Dr Sangeeta Balwant Bind, first-time MLA from Ghazipur Sadar, has been named Minister of State for Cooperatives, and Dharamveer Prajapati, MLC from western UP's Agra, is now Minister of State, Industrial Development.

Sanjiv Kumar, first-time MLA from Obra in eastern UP's Sonbhadra, has been appointed Minister of State, Social Welfare, and Hastinapur MLA Dinesh Khateek is now Minister of State for MoS Jal Shakti.

Paltu Ram, first-time MLA from Balrampur Sadar who was earlier with BSP, has been given charge of Home Guards and Soldiers (Servicemen) welfare. And, Bahedi MLA Chhatrapal Gangwar has been named Minister of State for Finance.

Coming months ahead of the Assembly polls in the politically-significant state, the cabinet expansion has poll arithmetic written all over it.

Mr Prasada's appointment is the BJP's shot at securing the support of the 13 per cent Brahmin voter base in the state.

A former Union Minister once close to Rahul Gandhi, Mr Prasada earlier in the day denied that the state cabinet rank was a comedown for him.

"It is not about promotion or demotion, it's about the intent to serve the people and whatever opportunity and responsibility I have got I am thankful to the BJP leadership, especially to the PM (Narendra Modi), Home Minister Amit Shah, JP Nadda and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath," Mr Prasada told NDTV.

Chhatrapal Gangwar, Dharamveer Prajapati and Dr Sangeeta Balwant Bind are from the OBC community.

Dinesh Khateek and Paltu Ram are from a Scheduled Caste. Sanjiv Kumar is from a Scheduled Tribe.

The newly inducted ministers will, however, only have three months in office before the Model Code of Conduct kicks in.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has termed the inductions a "hoax" and accused the BJP of paying lip service to marginalised communities.

"The cabinet expansion of the BJP government of UP is a hoax. Today a drama is being created to represent those who (did not) get their due for four-and-a-half years. Before the ink on their nameplates (at their new offices) dries, the Model Code of Conduct will kick in," he tweeted.

"The concluding point of the BJP drama has begun," Mr Yadav added.