Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditayanath carried out his first cabinet expansion today, more than two years after the BJP came to power in the state. The 42-member cabinet, which also saw some resignations, saw the addition of 23 new ministers - six cabinet ministers, six ministers of state (with independent charge) and 11 state ministers. They were administered their oaths by Governor Anandiben Patel at the Raj Bhavan in Lucknow.
The allocation of portfolios will happen at a later date. Many of those who took oath today are fresh faces with little or no administrative experience.
Among those sworn in was Suresh Rana, 49, a two time MLA from the Thana Bhawan seat in western UP, who has been given a cabinet minister post. Government sources say he was rewarded for work done as minister in charge of the sugarcane industry, during which time he was pro-active in trying to clear thousands of crores of farmers' dues.
Suresh Rana's name figures in criminal cases relating to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, in which more than 60 people died.
Another notable face is Sri Ram Chauhan, 65, a former Lok Sabha MP and minister in the government of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A MLA from the Dhanghata Assembly segment, Sri Ram Chauhan has been handed a minister of state (independent) charge.
Of the 23 ministers sworn-in, only two are women. Six of the 23 are Brahmins, with two each from the Thakur and Vaishya communities and 10 from OBCs.
The cabinet is expected to have more vacancies.
Finance Minister and veteran BJP leader Rajesh Agarwal, 76, resigned from his post on Tuesday, citing his age. The BJP has a strict age bar of 75 after which government posts are banned.
Three ministers - Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Satyadev Pachauri and SP Singh Baghel - resigned after being elected to the Lok Sabha in May.
Sources say at least six other ministers had been asked to resign by the Chief Minister, for reasons ranging from non-performance to allegations of corruption.
The expansion takes place a day after the Chief Minister attended a RSS coordination committee meeting on Tuesday night, at which the constitution of the cabinet is believed to have been discussed.
Sources indicate the reshuffle has been carried out with an eye on Assembly polls, although that is still three years away. The BJP swept to power in the state with a commanding mandate in the state elections in 2017, winning 325 of the 403 seats.
With inputs from IANS