MP Cabinet Expansion, MP Mantrimandal Vistar 2020: Of the 28 members who took oath on Thursday, 9 are Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists. In total, Scindia now has 11 of his supporters in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan headed Cabinet.
More than three months after taking oath as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for a fourth term, Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday undertook a much-anticipated exercise to expand his Cabinet. The second Cabinet expansion in the last three months saw 28 new faces join the Council of Ministers which was just six-strong until now. The five ministers, other than Shivraj himself, had taken oath in April. Two of them were from the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp. Of the 28 members who took oath on Thursday, 9 are Scindia loyalists. In total, Jyotiradiya Scindia now has 11 of his supporters in the state Cabinet.
A lot has been discussed on the delay in the cabinet expansion, the most crucial being Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s apparent failure to have his way with the central leadership. It has been reported that Shivraj held several rounds of meetings with party president JP Nadda as well as Home minister Amit Shah but failed to convince them to allow him a greater say in the expansion of his council of ministers. Jyotiraditya Scindia, who engineered BJP and Chouhan’s return to power, dug in his heels and refused to cede any ground as far as the induction of his supporters into the cabinet was concerned.
READ MORE: Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Ministers List 2020
And he eventually did have his way. Governor Anandiben Patel today administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new minister in the presence of CM Shivraj and Rajya Sabha MP Scindia. The leaders who took oath first included BJP leaders Gopal Bhargava, Vijay Shah, Jagdish Devda, former Congress leader Bisahulal Singh, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, former minister Bhupendra Singh, former Congress leader Aidal Singh Kansana, Brijendra Pratap Singh and Vishwas Sarang.
The next set of leaders to take oath included Scindia loyalists — Imarti Devi, Dr Prabhuram Chaudhar, Mahendra Singh Sisodiya, Pradyumna Singh Tomar, Rajyavardhan Singh, Brijendra Singh Yadav, Girraj Dandotiya, OPS Bhadoria and Suresh Dhakad. Those inducted from the Scindia camp are not MLAs as they resigned from the Assembly in March, leading to the fall of the 15-month-old Congress government headed by Kamal Nath. They will be contesting the Assembly bypolls to 24 seats vacant in the state.
So why did the BJP allow Scindia to have his way while Chouhan had to resign to the fact that he had been overruled? Ahead of the cabinet expansion, Shivraj made a cryptic comment: “Amrit (nectar) comes out of the churning of the ocean, as Shiva consumes vish (poison)”. The comment signified that he had been forced to take a bitter pill on the choice of ministers to be inducted into his team.
Over and above the new power equations that the Scindia imprint in Thursday’s exercise has created, the BJP has set its sights on the bigger battle for power in the state which will be decided by the outcome of bypolls to the 24 vacant seats. A majority of the seats fall in the Gwalior-Chambal region where Scindia has strong dominance. While the BJP has given him enough representation in the Cabinet while sidelining its own old guard, Scindia and his loyalists will have to face the litmus test when bypolls are held, possibly later this year.
The effective strength of the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly currently stands at 206. The BJP has 107 MLAs and enjoys the support of 6 more members. The Congress has 93 MLAs. The BJP needs to win just 3 seats to go beyond the halfway mark of 115. The 24 seats where polls are to be held include Jaura (Morena), Sumawali (Morena), Morena, Dimni (Morena), Ambah (Morena), Mehgaon (Bhind), Gohad (Bhind), Gwalior, Gwalior East, Dabra (Gwalior), Bhander (Gwalior), Karaira (Shivpuri), Ratkheda (Shivpuri), Bamori (Guna), Ashok Nagar, Mungawali (Ashok Nagar), Surkhi (Sagar), Byohari (Sahdol), Anuppur, Agar, Harpiplaya (Dewas), Sanwer (Indore), Sanchi (Vidisha), Suwasara (Mandsaur).
Scindia, for his influence in the Gwalior-Chambal region, had lost his traditional seat in the Lok Sabha elections held last year. That turned out to be the biggest factor behind him being sidelined in the Congress. With the BJP living up to its promise in terms of representation in the state cabinet, failure on Scindia’s part to deliver could potentially threaten his political career altogether. Although the BJP looks set to sail through to majority comfortably, Scindia knows it is a do or die battle for him and he is not letting his guard down yet.