With the intention of clearing deadwood from his government, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav after four days of political speculations and marathon consultations, ultimately re-allocated portfolios to his ministerial colleagues in the late night of 4 November.
In view of his mission to win 2017 Assembly polls, the need to balance caste and regional equations necessitated the reshuffle. The much talked about expansion and subsequent work allocation to the ministers failed to bring any perceptional change in the mindset of the masses due to his failure to drop his tainted ministers.
After all the high drama of sacking, promoting and inducting new faces to head the political arena of the most populous north Indian state in the sixth expansion of Akhilesh ministry, Bundelkhand region and many politically significant districts could not get any representation despite assurances given by the chief minister in public meetings.
The rejig exercise virtually failed to achieve its very motive as tainted ministers such as Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, Ram Murti Verma, Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, Vinod Singh alias Pundit Singh and many others managed, by hook or by crook, to survive despite public outcry on the charges against them including alleged corruption, illegal mining, land grabbing, lawlessness and maladministration.
Their retention in the government has raised question marks on the authority and sincerity of Akhilesh, who got overwhelming majority in the 2012 elections because of his unprecedented tough stand to oust mafia don DP Yadav, thereby reassuring the people that criminals will have no place in the party under his command.
Political analyst Pankaj Jha comments on the reshuffle, “I am shocked at the manner in which Samajwadi P arty’s ‘think tank’ has exercised its political wisdom in this matter. These are just last minute exercises for smooth sailing in the forthcoming Assembly polls. Though 12 new faces took oath in the reshuffle, the most backward castes including Nishad, Lodhi, Kisan, Pal, Kushwaha, Mourya and Shakya have been neglected in the process.”
“The Rajbhar community, which is the dominating force in many areas of eastern Uttar Pradesh, are annoyed due to their non-representation in the cabinet. Even Bhumihars and Tyagis who have strongholds in different pockets of eastern and western UP are feeling hurt after having no suitable replacement for their representative Narad Rai, who was unceremoniously sacked from the ministry on 28 October,” he adds.
Eyebrows have been raised on the disproportionate representation given to most of the districts and neglect of a few others. While Ghazipur, Faizabad, Basti and Behraich secured two cabinet ministers and two state ministers of independent charge, Jaunpur, Azamgarh, Ambedkar Nagar and Barabanki districts secured three cabinet and three state ministers. However, surprisingly, politically significant districts such as Allahabad, Kanpur Dehat, Muzaffarnagar, Bhadoi, Sonbhadra, Mau, Kaushambi, Shrawasti and entire Bundelkhand region has been completely blacked out in the ministry.
Despite discontentment in some sections over regional representation, Akhilesh kept special focus to balance caste and community factors in the reshuffle and most of the castes have been duly represented. Now the cabinet consists of 10 Yadavs — six in the cabinet rank including the chief minister, one state minister of independent charge and three state ministers. Muslims have occupied a lion share in his ministry as the SP banks on the community’s support. Among 11 Muslim ministers, five are of cabinet rank, four hold independent charge and one is a state minister.