Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Jyotiraditya Scindia at a BJP event this month.
Nine days after they joined the Madhya Pradesh cabinet, 28 ministers, including significant number of former Congress leaders, will finally get portfolios on Sunday.
The delay in assigning ministries had triggered speculation about a conflict in the ruling BJP over accommodating loyalists of Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose exit from the Congress along with 22 MLAs led to collapse of Kamal Nath-led government in March this year, in the cabinet.
“I will do it tomorrow (Sunday),” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told reporters in Gwalior when asked about the delay in allocating portfolios.
After expanding his cabinet for the second time on July 2, Mr Chouhan met top leaders of the BJP in New Delhi apparently to discuss the portfolio allocation, which has become a political tightrope in the presence of an assertive Jyotiraditya Scindia.
The 28 ministers comprise at least a dozen loyalists of Mr Scindia. Their induction in the cabinet had reportedly left several ministerial aspirants in the state BJP unhappy. Sources say the Chief Minister was forced to stand down on many candidates he had suggested to the party leadership.
The cabinet expansion had been due since March, when the Congress lost power to the BJP after the rebels quit along with Mr Scindia, once a close aide of Rahul Gandhi.
The government had functioned with five ministers since mid-April. Even they were inducted nearly a month after Mr Chouhan took oath in March as the Chief Minister for the record fourth term.
The delay was officially attributed to the coronavirus lockdown and the Rajya Sabha election. Behind the scenes, however, there were raging disagreements over the allocation of ministries between the BJP and the former Congressmen who expected to be rewarded for bringing down the Congress government led by Kamal Nath.
Taking a dig at the BJP, Congress veteran Digvijay Singh tweeted on Saturday: “8 days of cabinet expansion completed in Madhya Pradesh. CM’s workout on allocation of departments doesn’t seem to be over. Has Tiger become a toothless? Let us see who runs away from his territory!”.
Speaking after the cabinet expansion on Thursday, Mr Scindia had said he wanted to tell Congress leaders that “Tiger abhi zinda hai (Tiger is still alive).”
(With inputs from PTI)
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