Yogi gives facelift to cabinet with eye firmly on 2024 poll

Having become the first UP CM to begin the second innings after completing full five-year term, Yogi has reshuffled the cabinet by dropping 22 ministers of Yogi 1.0 rule. The reig is aimed at striking a regional balance while enhancing prty’s prospects in 2024 general election, reports Mudit Mathur

With the mega fanfair of cheering crowd chanting slogans “Jai Shri Ram-Har Har Mahadev –Modi-Modi–Yogi-Yogi” amid continuous blowing of auspicious “Shankh Sound” (blowing of a conch shell) by saints and sadhus, the saffron robed Yogi Adityanath broke the jinx of re-coronation on the most challenging throne of the chief minister of the largest state of the country after a long interval of 37 years.

During Congress rule, with Narayan Dutt Tiwari as CM of undivided UP in 1985, the state went to election. The Congress won and Tiwari held the post for the second term in a row. Since then, no CM has succeeded in retaining the CM’s chair for a second consecutive term but Tiwari was  not be able to complete full term in his both stints andwas  toppled by Vir Bahadur Singh. Adityanath is the first CM to do so since then.

In a glittering ceremony held at Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium in the state’s capital, the galaxy of top political leaders including prime minister Narendra Modi who witnessed the historic event with mammoth overflowing crowds of over 75000, sharing specially designed large podium for oath ceremony. The ceremony was delayed by 17 minutes due to late arrival of prime minister on the venue where his helicopter landed.

The BJP president J.P. Nadda, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India Nitin Gadkari and many prominent union ministers including Smriti Irani, Dharmendra Pradhan, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Anurag Thakur, Faggan Singh Kulhaste, Ashwini Chaubey, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Gen. V.K. Singh, Ram Das Athawale, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Sanjeev Baliyan, Pankaj Chaudhri, Anupriya Patel, S.P. Singh Baghel, Meenakshi Lekhi and others attended the mega event.

The chief ministers from other BJP ruled states also marked their presence on the occasion. They included Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Bhupendra Patel (Gujarat), Shivraj Singh Chauhan (MP), Pushkar Singh Dhami (Uttrakhand), Manohar Lal Khattar (Haryana), Biplav Kumar (Tripura), Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam), Pramod Sawant (Goa), Jai Ram Thakur (Himanchal Pradesh), Nongthombam Biren Singh (Manipur) and Basavaraj Somappa Bommai (Karnataka). Industrialists Anand Mahindra and Kushgra Bajaj also attended the ceremony.

The Governor, Anandi Ben Patel administered the constitutional oath of the office and secrecy to Yogi Adityanath and members of his revamped cabinet. Having become first chief minister of the state beginning second term after completing full five years, the cabinet has been given facelift by dropping around 22 ministers of Yogi 1.0 rule.

Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak were sworn in as the two deputy chief ministers on the occasion. The Governor also administered oath to 52 cabinet and state ministers, including both old faces and new legislators. The 16 Cabinet ministers who took oath of office were: Suresh Kumar Khanna, Surya Pratap Shahi, Swatantradev Singh, Baby Rani Maurya, Lakshmi Narayan Chowdhary, Jaiveer Singh, Dharampal Singh, Nandgopal Gupta Nandi, Bhupendra Singh Chowdhary, Anil Rajbhar, Jitin Prasada, Rakesh Sachan, Arvind Kumar Sharma (former bureaucrat and close aide of PM Modi), Yogendra Upadhyaya, Ashish Patel and Sanjay Nishad.

The new cabinet aimed at striking a regional and caste balance looking deeper for the better prospects in upcoming 2024 general elections for the Lok Sabha when Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be seeking the mandate for his third term. Yogi 2.0 Cabinet gave representation to women, youth, new and old faces but focus was on poll chemistry and caste calculations with regional balancing.

Maximum representation has been given to western UP from where 16 ministers were inducted. This area performed unexpectedly well for the party despite being nerve centre of farmers agitation. Similarly, 13 from eastern, five from central, six from Ruhelkhand, four from Bundelkhand and eight from Awadh were  inducted in the ministry. Caste balancing show 21 ministers from OBCs, eight from scheduled castes, one each from scheduled tribe, Sikhs and Muslims besides 20 from upper castes including seven Brahmins, six Thakurs, five Vaishya and two Bhumihars. The state capital Lucknow had seven ministers in Yogi-1 cabinet which has been drastically reduced to only one as Brajesh Pathak emerged as the strongest contender and powerful Brahmin face rewarded with Deputy Chief Ministership.

Yogi’s new Cabinet comprises 5 women who proved to be politically and socially strong. They include former governor Baby Rani Maurya, Gulab Devi, Pratibha Shukla, Rajni Tiwari, and Vijay Lakshmi Gautam who found ministerial positions in the second innings of the Yogi-led BJP rule. In 2022 elections, a total of 41 women won elections out of which 27 came on BJP ticket. Out of these five women ministers, three belong to Dalit communities and two from upper caste Brahmins.

The Governor administered oath to 14 state ministers with independent charge in a batch of two at a time including Nitin Agrawal–Kapil Dev Agrawal, Ravindra Jaiswal–Sandip Singh, Ms Gulab Devi–Girish Chandra Yadav, Dharmveer Prajapati–Asim Arun (Ex IPS), JPS Rathor–Daya Shankar Singh, Narendra Kashyap– Dinesh Pratap Singh, Arun Kumar Saxena–Daya Shankar Mishra ‘Dayalu’.

As many as 20 state ministers also took oath of office in a batch of four including Mayankeshwar Singh–Dinesh Khattik–Baldev Singh Aulakh–Ajit Pal, Jaswant Saini–Sanjiv Gaud–Brajesh Singh– Ramkesh Nishad, Rakesh Rathor ‘Guru’–Manohar Lal Mannu ‘Kori’–Sanjay Gangwar–Rajni Tiwari, Danish Azad–Somendra Tomar–Ms Pratibha Shukla–Satish Sharma and  Vijaylakshmi Gautam–Anoop Pradhan ‘Balmiki’–KP Malik and Suresh Rahi.

The oath ceremony had become colourful show of artists including singers and dancers who staged entertaining performances repeating electioneering campaign songs praising Yogi–Modi in their melodious voices representing composite dialect and cultural diversity.

Among those dropped from the Cabinet are former Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma, former ministers Satish Mahana, Ramapati Shastri, Ram Naresh Agnihotri, Jai Pratap Singh, Jai Prakash Nishad and Jai Kumar Singh, Ashutosh Tandon, Shrikant Sharma, Siddharth Nath Singh. Sharma and Siddharth Singh were also spokespersons for the Uttar Pradesh government between 2017 and 2022. State Minister with Independent charge Atul Garg, Neelkanth Tiwari, Ashok Kataria, Sri Ram Chauhan, Mohsin Raza were also dropped. Most surprising was the ouster of Neelkanth Tiwari, the second-time MLA from Varanasi South where the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor has come up just before the elections.

BJP top leadership rewarded Keshav Maurya who had lost assembly election from Sirathu as he was found to be indispensable for the party due to his contribution in bringimg backward classes to party fold. His efforts to retain them after desertion of Swami Prasad Maurya, Dharm Singh Saini and Dara Singh Chauhan just before the polls were also given due recognition by the party leadership. He is very popular face among party workers and is easily accessible.

The surprising element of the cabinet formation was induction of six new faces who are not the members of state legislature. Their names include the lone Muslim face Danish Azad Ansari, JPS Rathore, Daya Shankar Mishra Dayalu, Narendra Kashyap, Jaswant Saini and Dinesh Pratap Singh. Dinesh Pratap Singh comes from Raebareli from where he is contesting ongoing elections for legislative council.

Uttar Pradesh Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 45 Ministers out of 53 Ministers including Chief Minister from Uttar Pradesh State Assembly 2022. 2 MLC minister namely Sanjay Nishad and Jitin prasada were not analysed due to the unavailability of their affidavits on the CEO website at the time of making this report and the details of JPS Rathore, Narendra Kashyap, DineshPratap Singh, Dayashankar Mishra Dayalu, Jaswant Saini and Danish Azad Ansari were not analysed as they are not currently members of either any house, state assembly or legislative council.

In the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the BJP retained power in Uttar Pradesh by winning 255 out of 403 constituencies, securing a 41.29 per cent vote share, while its allies Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Nishad Party won 12 and 6 seats, respectively.

The Samajwadi Party won 111 seats, while its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal won 8 seats, and another ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party won six seats. The Congress won two seats, while the BSP one. Raghuraj Pratap Singh’s Jansatta Dal Loktantrik bagged two seats. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav resigned from the Lok Sabha and his party elected him leader of legislative party. The Vidhan Sabha appointed him leader of opposition. Akhilesh vowed to fight for the people and expose lies of the ruling BJP.



Some noteworthy inductions

A.K. Sharma, Cabinet Minister

It is popular perception that PM Modi wanted his trusted lieutenant Sharma to be inducted into the cabinet reshuffle during the 2021 but Adityanath firmly declined, outrightly treating him to be a spy of Modi-Shah duo.

Sharma has worked with Modi since the latter’s days as Gujarat chief minister. He was secretary of the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), and joined the PMO as joint secretary after Modi’s 2014 win.

As 1988 batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer and close confidant of PM Modi, A.K. Sharma was appointed vice-president of the UP BJP after he took voluntary retirement in 2021 to join the BJP. Soon after, he was nominated as member of the Legislative Council (MLC).



Baby Rani Maurya, Cabinet Minister

Maurya first came to limelight when she became the first Dalit woman mayor of Agra in 1995 and remained in the post till 2000. She worked as treasurer in the BJP’s SC Morcha in 1997 with Ram Nath Kovind, now President of India. Her induction in the cabinet is aimed creating desertion of Mayawati’s core Jatav vote bank as she was projected as the Jatav face of the BJP.

BJP strategists have asked her to step down from the constitutional post of Governor, Uttarakhand targeting Jatav community in wake of political slumber of BSP Supremo Mayawati whose “core vote bank” drained out in the assembly elections reducing her strength to just one seat in the 403 assembly constituencies. Her empowerment in BJP has a strategy to inspire confidence of Dalits, particularly Jatavs in the leadership of Narendra Modi.

The daughter of a Congress leader Ram Singh, Baby Rani was chosen as a member of the National Commission for Women in 2002. In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh elections, she contested from Ehtmad seat, but lost. She was BJP’s UP secretary, but before the assembly elections, she was made BJP vice-president.


Jitin Prasada, Cabinet Minister

Jitin Prasada, son of veteran Congress leader Jitendra Prasada is one of the youngest faces in the Yogi’s cabinet.

A Brahmin leader, Prasad had joined the BJP in June 2021 deserting Rahul Gandhi. He found favour and got inducted in Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet as a minister of state. The BJP nominated him as an MLC as well, when there was a strong wind of Brahmin resentment towards the Yogi government after encounter of notorious gangster Vikas Dubey who killed many policemen in an ambush in Kanpur.

Prasada, a Doon School alumni, was inducted as minister months before the announcement of assembly polls. He was given charge of the technical education ministry in the last cabinet. Now he has been promoted to cabinet rank.


Asim Arun, MoS (Independent Charge)

Asim Arun is a former IPS officer who has served as the police commissioner of Kanpur, as well as chief of UP’s Anti-Terrorism Squad. He is a 1994-batch IPS officer of the UP cadre who took voluntary retirement on the invitation of Yogi Adityanath to join politics to bring change in the society. His father Sri Ram Arun was DGP during Mayawati tenure and was always considered as an honest upright police officer.

Arun was inducted by the BJP just before the recent state assembly elections, which he fought and won from Kannauj. The BJP had projected Arun as its Jatav face, as well as a representation of its law-and-order plank.


J.P.S. Rathore, MoS (independent charge)

BJP’s state general secretary, Rathore was given responsibility of western UP before the elections. He was previously BJP vice-president, and has an M.Tech. degree from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). His performance paved his way to power without being elected to any houses of state legislature.



Danish Azad Ansari, MoS

Ansari has become the part of the Yogi government as the lone Muslim face of the party. The 32-year-old politician has been associated with the BJP since 2011. He is a commerce graduate from Lucknow University and also received his master’s degree in public administration from there.

Ansari, son of a poor weaver, is currently the State General Secretary of BJP Minority Wing and has been associated with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad since student life. He is not a member of either House. Danish Azad Ansari is a resident of Basantpur in Ballia.

He was made a member of the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Memorial Committee in 2018 and later of the Urdu Committee. The Ballia leader has replaced Mohsin Raza, who was also the lone Muslim face in the first Yogi ministry as minister of state for minority welfare, Muslim Waqf and Hajj in UP.


Rakesh Rathore Guruji, MoS

Rakesh Rathore, a small-time mechanic by profession, has taken an oath as one of the newest members of CM Yogi’s council of ministers. An MLA from Sitapur Sadar, Rakesh is serving his first term in the position.

Rakesh Rathor earlier had a battery shop in Sitapur itself. Later he opened an auto-workshop, which is still running. He taught this work to many people and that is the reason he was referred to as a ‘Guru’.