Some tainted names figure in Chouhan’s cabinet

December 22nd, 2008 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyBhopal, Dec 22 (IANS) In his new ministry, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has not been able to exclude all the tainted ministers of his previous government, probably an indication that he did not have a free hand in selecting his ministry, say analysts.On Saturday, 22 ministers, including two women, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government were administered oath of office by Governor Balram Jakhar. There were only four new faces in the new cabinet that comprised 14 ministers of cabinet rank and eight junior ministers.

Ministers of the previous regime who made it to the cabinet again include former chief minister Babulal Gaur, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Anoop Mishra, Jayant Malaiya, Gopal Bhargava, Tukajirao Pawar and Raghavji.

Some among them who have cases before the state Lokayukta (anti-corruption cell) are Gaur, Vijayvargiya, Bhargava and Malaiya. According to party insiders, they reportedly got their names cleared at the instance of central party leaders.

Chouhan, who himself faces a case in the Lokayukta over purchase of four Tata dumper trucks, could not resist the recommendations of top national BJP leaders and Sangh Parivar functionaries, said party sources.

The chief minister along with BJP state president Narendra Singh Tomar had last Friday met party president Rajnath Singh, senior leader M. Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) bigwigs in Delhi and discussed the formation of his council of ministers.

After getting the clearance, Chouhan had rushed to Bhopal and met the governor and handed over the list of the ministers-to-be.

Another minister who faces a case in the Lokayukta and has made it again to the new cabinet is Laxmikant Sharma. His name is said to have been included at the last moment.

Another old name Tukojirao Puar, who allegedly misbehaved with a woman electoral officer in Dewas and was arrested on the directives of the Election Commission, has also found a berth.

“What message does this give?,” asked a senior party leader pleading anonymity.

Some tainted ministers of the former government not included this time are Kamal Patel, Vijay Shah, Narottam Mishra, Ajay Vishnoi, Antar Singh Arya, Moti Kashyap, Meena Singh, Ramdayal Ahirwar and Harendrajeet Babbu.

The chief minister, however, maintains: “Merely charging someone doesn’t mean that the person in question is corrupt. It should be proved in the court of law.

“The berths have been provided keeping in mind the performance of the ministers in the previous regime,” he said.

By not inducting certain former ministers whose names directly or indirectly figured in some controversy or those whose performance was not found up to the mark, the party leadership has tried to send out a message that the ministers will have to be carefu1 about their conduct and performance.

The party leadership has also tried to strike a balance among various regions and sections of society by trying to give them representation keeping in mind the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The cabinet now has five Brahmin ministers, seven belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC) including the chief minister, three Jains, two from Scheduled Tribes, two Scheduled Castes, two from the Vaish community and one from the Rajput clan.

“The presence of five Brahmins underlines the growing threat of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)”, said analyst Vijay Tiwari. The BSP, a party of the weaker sections, has been wooing the upper castes in a major way.

Chouhan has, however, kept 12 berths vacant which, analyst Girija Shankar says, would work like “dangling carrots” before party MLAs to make them give their “cent percent” in the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP occupies 24 of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh.

The BJP bagged 143 of the 230 seats in the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls to retain power in the state.

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