Lucknow, Oct. 17: Mayavati’s vague assurance to accommodate some more legislators from the BJP and its allies in her council of ministers, but “without calling it a Cabinet expansion”, has failed to satisfy the dissidents who have been denied a berth in her jumbo ministry.
These dissidents, who include nearly a dozen Independents, are meeting to formulate their strategy to destabilise the tenuous coalition. They are complaining that their seniority and merit has been ignored.
Quite a few legislators who managed to find place in the ministry are also sulking because they were handed over non-existent portfolios.
For instance, Bhupinder Singh Kurmi has been appointed minister of state for informal education and allotted Room No. 29 in the Assembly. Kurmi has just discovered that the department was scrapped two years ago.
From basic to higher and technical to agricultural education, there are nine ministers sharing what could easily have been one portfolio.
Then there is the case of Mahendra Singh Yadav, the minister for secondary education. His wife, an IAS officer, is the principal secretary in the same department. “This is a coincidence. In fact, that is why she has not come to office today. She has requested a transfer to another department,” said Yadav.
It’s little wonder then that ministers sworn in at the latest Cabinet expansion in Uttar Pradesh are unhappy. Fagu Chauhan is unhappy with family welfare, while health minister Aridaman Singh is unhappy about losing the family welfare portfolio.
Also sulking are those ministers who have been given just one portfolio. Before the expansion, irrigation and education minister Om Prakash Singh had proceeded on a study tour. He was relieved of the education portfolio during his absence.
As if this was not enough, there are some ministries that are almost pitted against each other. The excise ministry is trying to mop up higher revenues through increased sales of liquor, while the new ministry for prohibition is rolling up its sleeves to prevent just that.
Mayavati has increased heartburn among her flock by retaining more than 15 plum portfolios such as home and finance.
Despite a shortage of portfolios, three Lok Dal MLAs are biding time in the same department — the PWD ministry.