MP cabinet expansion on Thursday; ex-Cong MLAs may be inducted

The much-awaited expansion of the cabinet in Madhya Pradesh will take place on Thursday and some of the former Congress MLAs who joined the BJP in March are likely to be rewarded with ministerial berths.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday confirmed that he will expand his team on Thursday and made a statement that reflected difficulties he has been facing in undertaking the exercise given the backdrop in which he assumed office more than three months ago.
Chouhan flew to New Delhi on Sunday to hold consultations with the central BJP leadership over the much- talked about cabinet expansion.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a programme here on Wednesday, Chouhan said, “The governor will take oath today. The (new) cabinet members will take oath tomorrow (Thursday).”
He, however, did not put a number to the new ministers who will take oath.
Later in the day, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel took oath as governor of Madhya Pradesh at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan here. Patel has been given the additional charge of MP in view of incumbent Lalji Tandon’s hospitalisation.
Asked about the delay in cabinet expansion, Chouhan avoided a direct reply and turned to mythology to explain the situation.
“Only ‘amrit’ (elixir) comes out of ‘manthan’ (churning), vish (poison) is consumed by (Lord) Shiva,” the 61-year-old BJP leader said without elaborating, but indicating the difficult task before him.
Around 20 to 25 new members, including some former Congress MLAs who had joined the BJP in March, are likely to be inducted into the cabinet, sources in the BJP earlier said.
Chouhan took oath as chief minister for a record fourth term on March 23, after Kamal Nath resigned from the top post following rebellion by nearly two dozen MLAs of the Congress.
Most of the rebels were considered close to former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who himself quit the Congress and joined the BJP more than three months ago.
The initial ‘mini’ expansion of the Chouhan cabinet took place on April 21 with the induction of five ministers, including two former Congress MLAs.
Asked about Chouhan’s announcement of cabinet expansion, Nath told reporters, “This is for the first time in the history of the country when the cabinet expansion is taking place after such a long time.
“Only time will tell what was the reason for this delay and what will be its results.”