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23-member cabinet takes oath in shadow of LS polls

Four cabinet ministers from previous government dropped.

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The first cabinet in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s third-term that was sworn in on Saturday comprising 23 members sprung little surprise even though 11 of its members were not in the previous ministry.

The new faces were, by and large, predictable as shadow of Lok Sabha election, to be held five months from now , unmistakably loomed large on the exercise. This was evident both in inductions as well as omissions.

The chief minister had earlier said that expansion of the cabinet will take place after Lok Sabha election. On Saturday, he left scope for induction of at least a dozen more in the cabinet. All but four cabinet ministers from the previous government have been retained.

Of the dropped ones, two women ministers-- Ranjana Baghel and Archana Chitnis from Malwa region--have been replaced by royal faces from Gwalior region- Yashodhara Raje Scindia and her aunty (mamiji) Maya Singh. The third minister Jagdish Deora, who missed the bus, probably paid the price for alleged involvement of his personal staff in PEB scam.

Sports minister in previous government Tukoji Rao Paur has returned only recently from Singapore after major liver transplant operation.

Mahendra Hardia , minister of state for health in previous government, lost his job for non-performance,  sources close to CM suggested. Narayan Singh Kushwaha was also dropped from same reason.

Of the four ministers of state inducted on Saturday, two owe their berth to dynastic politics. Deepak Joshi is the son of senior BJP leader and MP from Bhopal Kailash Joshi while Surendra Patwa is nephew of former chief minister Sundar Lal Patwa. The third minister of state Sharad Jain is lone representative from Jabalpur region which had two powerful representatives --Ajay Bishnoi and late Ishwardas Rohani- in the previous government.

Bishnoi lost the election and Rohani had died of heart attack barely a week before he was to file nomination papers. His son won from Jabalpur (cantonment), which was late Rohani’s seat.

Since the BJP’s spectacular victory cut across caste, region and gender, these factors were not pronounced in formation of the cabinet. Only experience and political clout of the ministers counted.

Among the 19 cabinet ministers, 12 were in the previous cabinet too. Three --Kusum Singh Mahadele, Yashodhara Raje Scindia and Rampal Singh- have returned to the cabinet after a gap. Mahadele had lost 2008 assembly election, Yashodhara was elected to Lok Sabha in 2009 from Gwalior and Ram Pal Singh had lost in the same election from Hoshangabad Lok Sabha seat.  Only Maya Singh and Bhupendra Singh Thakur have made it to the cabinet for first time.

Dynasty politics had its share
Of the four ministers of state inducted on Saturday, two owe their berth to dynastic politics. Deepak Joshi is the son of senior BJP leader and MP from Bhopal Kailash Joshi while Surendra Patwa is nephew of former chief minister Sundar Lal Patwa. The third minister of state Sharad Jain is lone representative from Jabalpur region which had two powerful representatives --Ajay Bishnoi and late Ishwardas Rohani- in the previous government

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