LUCKNOW: Just a day ahead of much-awaited cabinet expansion of Yogi Adityanath government, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, five ministers, including state finance minister Rajesh Agarwal, basic education minister Anupama Jaiswal and three others resigned here on Tuesday.
While Agarwal, an eight-time MLA from Bareilly Cant, quit the ministry on health grounds as he has just stepped into 75 plus age bracket, the other ministers including Jaiswal, Chetan Chauhan, Swati Singh and Mukut Bihari Verma, put in their papers in the wake of an impending reshuffle.
However, there was no official confirmation of the resignations other than Agarwal and Jaiswal.
Meanwhile, over a dozen new faces are likely to be sworn in at Raj Bhawan at 11 am on Wednesday. While four ministers of state with independent charge are likely to be promoted to the cabinet rank, a few may be shown the door on the basis of their performance during the last 29 months.
This would be the first expansion of the Yogi cabinet in the two and a half years of its tenure.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath huddled with senior RSS leadership in a high-powered coordination meeting for four hours in the state capital on Tuesday. As per highly-placed sources, the deliberations at the coordination meeting focused over the work and worth of Yogi ministers, cabinet expansion and strategy for upcoming by-polls to 13 Assembly seats in the state.
Besides the CM, deputy CMs Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya, Sangh Parivar’s Awadh Prant Pramukh (regional head) Kaushalji and Sah Sarkaryawahak (joint general secretary) Dattatreya Hosable were also present in the meeting.
Yogi Adityanath had taken over the reins of the state in March 2017 after BJP rode to power with a mammoth majority in 2017 assembly elections. The expansion was earlier slated for Monday but it was deferred at the last moment owing to the critical condition of former Union Finance minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.
The probable faces likely to be sworn-in include Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh (MLA- Gautambuddh Nagar), BJP ally Apna Dal chief and MP Anupriya
Patel’s husband Ashish Patel (MLC AD), Ashok Kataria (MLC), Vidysagar Sonkar (MLC), Udaybhan Singh (MLA Fatehpur Sikri), Kapil Dev Agarwal (MLA
Muzaffarnagar), Anil Sharma (MLA-Bulandshahr), Sanjeev Raj (MLA-Aligarh Cant), Neelima Katiyar (MLA-Kanpur) and Dal Bahdur Kori (MLA- Rae Bareli).
The four ministers of state with an independent charge who are likely to be promoted to cabinet rank may include Dr Mahendra Singh, Suresh Rana, Anil Rajbhar and Upendra Tiwari.
The cabinet expansion has been necessitated due to the slots lying vacant for quite some time now. While three of the Yogi ministers – Reeta Bahuguna Joshi, SP Singh Baghel and Satydev Pachauri – had to quit the UP cabinet after being elected to the Lok Sabha.
Swatantra Deo Singh too resigned from the cabinet on Monday as he has been entrusted with the organisation’s responsibility in the state.
He was holding the portfolio of transport and protocol as minister of state (independent charge).
However, another cabinet berth got vacated after disgruntled Suheldev Bahratiya Janta Party chief OP Rajbhar was sacked by the CM immediately after the Lok Sabh poll results. Rajbhar was holding the charge of the social development department as a cabinet minister.
The maximum strength of the council of ministers can be 15 per cent of the assembly's total strength. The Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats and hence, the
state can have a maximum of 61 ministers, including the chief minister.
Consequently, 18 more faces can be inducted into the Yogi cabinet which currently has 18 cabinet ministers, nine ministers of state with independent charge and 13 ministers of state, in addition to two deputy chief ministers -- Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma.