The ‘mini-cabinet’ has just five ministers – none with a portfolio. Two of them are from the Jyotiraditya Scindia group.
The chosen ones are Narottam Mishra, Kamal Patel, Meena Singh, Tulsi Silawat and Govind Singh Rajput.
Silawat and Rajput are Scindia loyalists and were ministers in the Kamal Nath cabinet. They played key roles in the breakaway from Congress, which led to the collapse of the Nath government in March.
No portfolios have been allocated yet, but the ministers have been put in charge of two divisions each to manage the fightback against Covid-19.
For nearly a month after being sworn in as CM, Chouhan ran a one-man show without a council of ministers, triggering criticism from the opposition. The buzz is that a tug of war between factions in BJP — including Scindia’s — for plum portfolios was delaying formation of the cabinet.
On Tuesday, when Governor Lalji Tandon administered oath of office to the five ministers at Raj Bhavan, there was anticipation that key portfolios would be allocated, but that wasn’t to be.
Chouhan said: “The cabinet is small but balanced, and effort has been made to give representation to all sections of society. Whatever is left will be taken care of in the next expansion after the lockdown is lifted.”
Silawat has been put in charge of Indore – MP’s corona hotspot — and Sagar divisions. Mishra has been given charge of Bhopal and Ujjain – the other two red zones of MP. Patel will handle Jabalpur and Narmadapuram divisions, Rajput gets Chambal and Gwalior and Meena Singh will look after Rewa and Shahdol divisions.
Mishra and Silawat have been health ministers. The CM said the ministers would keep watch on the situation in the districts under their charge and, in consultation with local public representatives, officials and public at large, would formulate strategies to overcome the menace.
Former CM Kamal Nath criticized the mini-cabinet, saying it was a “mockery of the people of Madhya Pradesh”. “During this time of Corona pandemic, BJP has made fun of the 7.5 crore people of the state. A cabinet has been formed after a month, that too with only five ministers and no allocation of department,” he tweeted.
In a second tweet, Nath took a dig at BJP, and said: “It’s clear how much internal conflict is on in BJP. How many days will this government run? Let’s wait and watch.”
Many top state BJP leaders have been left out, including former LOP Gopal Bhargava and several powerful ministers in the previous Shivraj cabinet — Bhupendra Singh, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Sanjay Pathak, Rajendra Shukla, Vijay Shah, Surendra Patwa, Rampal Singh and Paras Jain.
Political observers feel the covid-cabinet was more of a “ritual” to silence Congress, coming as it did just a day after Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha petitioned the President not to approve two financial ordinances promulgated by the Shivraj government since there was no cabinet in MP.
What stands out in the mini cabinet is that all sections have been represented — Brahmin, Thakur, OBC, Dalit and tribal. And, except for Mahakaushal, so have all regions of MP.
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