Tainted former UP Mines Minister Gayatri Prajapati, against whose reinduction a social activist had petitioned the Governor, was today sworn in along with three others, in perhaps the last expansion of the Akhilesh Yadav ministry before the 2017 UP Assembly polls.
Six MoS were also elevated in the expansion.
The oath of office and secrecy was administered by Governor Ram Naik at Raj Bhawan to Manoj Pandey, Shivakant Ojha and Ziauddin Rizvi, besides Gayatri. Rizvi was not able to take oath in June when the cabinet was last expanded as he was abroad.
Three Mos (Independent) Riaz Ahmed, Yasir Shah and Ravidas Mehtrotra, and Ministers of State Abhishek Mishra, Narendra Verma and Shankhlal Majhi were elevated to cabinet rank.
Interestingly, Raj Kishore Singh, who too was dropped along with Prajapati, failed to stage a comeback.
Prajapati was sacked by Akhilesh two weeks back as part of efforts by the chief minister to refurbish the image of his government before the Assembly elections.
His action, however, triggered a political crisis and his re-induction was part of a compromise formula hammered out by ruling Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to douse the flames in the Yadav clan.
But, hadly 48 hours before the swearing-in ceremony, activist Nutan Thakur petitioned the Governor against making him minister again. In her petition, she said Prajapati was removed as minister on serious corruption charges after the order of Allahabad High Court for a CBI inquiry.
Nutan said when Prajapati was removed as minister, he had lost the pleasure of the Governor. Hence, he cannot be reinducted in the Ministry unless the facts and reasons on which he had lost the pleasure of the Governor get removed.
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 strength of 60 ministers.