Lucknow: In what can be termed as a near-total revamp of the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh, 23 new ministers were sworn in on Wednesday at the Raj Bhawan by Governor Anandiben Patel.
The newly-inducted ministers include six cabinet ministers, six ministers of state with independent charge and 11 ministers of state.
The reshuffle has been done with an eye on the upcoming assembly by-polls and the 2022 assembly elections.
The BJP has made a conscious effort to consolidate its base among the Dalits and the OBCs. Among those who have been sworn in as ministers are six Brahmins, two Kshatriyas, two Jats, one Gujjar, three Dalits, two Kurmis, one Rajbhar, one from Pal community, three from Vaishya community, one Shakya and one Mallah.
The party has focused on small caste groups like Rajbhar, Shakya and Mallah - all non-Yadavs. An effort has been made to give representation to communities that till now did not find a foothold in the state government.
The Yogi government, in this expansion, has also given due representation to western Uttar Pradesh. Five legislators from western UP have been made ministers while one from Mainpuri, which is Samajwadi Party's bastion, has also been included in the council of ministers.
This is an obvious attempt to marginalise the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had made maximum gains from western UP in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
The Yogi government has also included legislators from eastern and central UP in the ministry, making it a very balanced representation of the state.
Meanwhile, four ministers of state, who held independent charge, have also been promoted as cabinet ministers.
The cabinet ministers who have been sworn in are Mahendra Singh, Bhupendra Chaudhary, Anil Rajbhar, Suresh Rana, Kamal Rani and Ram Naresh Agnihotri. Except for Kamal Rani and Ram Naresh Agnihotri, the remaining four have been elevated from the ministers of state position.
Those sworn in as ministers of state with independent charge include Kapil Dev, Ashok Katehria, Neelkanth Tiwari, Ravindra Jaiswal, Shri Ram Chauhan and Satish Dwiwedi - the latter had defeated former Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey in 2017.
Neelkanth Tiwari, who has been given independent charge, and Ravindra Jaiswal belong to Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The 11 ministers of state are Anil Sharma, Mahesh Gupta, Anand Swarup Shukla, Vijay Kashyap, Giriraj Singh Dharmesh, Lakhan Singh Rajput, Nilima Katiyar, Chaudhary Udaybhan Singh, Chandrika Prasad Upadhyaya, Rama Shankar Singh Patel and Ajit Singh Pal.
The most significant aspect of Wednesday's reshuffle is that majority of the newly inducted ministers are first timers with almost no administrative experience. Yogi Adityanath will face an uphill task in making these ministers perform.
In a surprise development, the names of Pankaj Singh, son of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak and Ashish Patel of Apna Dal were dropped at the last minute.
The dropping of ministers including Chetan Chauhan, Swati Singh and Mukut Bihari Varma was also deferred, following a late night meeting between Yogi Adityanath, BJP state President Swatantra Dev Singh and Sangh leaders.
Yogi Adityanath's council of minister had more than 20 vacancies after some ministers were asked to resign on Tuesday. These include Rajesh Agarwal, who was the Finance Minister, Dharampal Singh (irrigation), Anupama Jaiswal (basic education) and Archana Pandey (mining).
Earlier on Monday, Swatantra Dev Singh (transport) had quit the ministry after being appointed state BJP president.
Three ministers who were elected to the Lok Sabha - Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Satyadev Pachauri and S P Singh Baghel - had resigned in June while Om Prakash Rajbhar, who heads the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, was sacked for causing embarrassment to the BJP-led government with his outbursts against the saffron party.
Interestingly, the media was kept out of the swearing-in ceremony. Only 60 of the 1,250 accredited journalists - almost all of them from the electronic media - were allowed entry while the print media was kept out. Officials cited 'lack of space' as the reason for this.