Growth, not religion, is my priority: Yogi
Lucknow: Yogi Adityanath was sworn in as the 32nd Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at a gala function at the Kanshi Ram Smriti Upan in Lucknow on Sunday afternoon.
The oath of office and secrecy was administered by Governor Ram Naik. A 46-member Council of Ministers, including two Deputy Chief Ministers, Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dr Dinesh Sharma, 22 Cabinet Ministers, nine Ministers of State with independent charge, and 13 Ministers of State were also sworn in, along with Yogi. Five women figured in the cabinet.
Almost half of the cabinet are represented by upper castes, indicating that aggressive Hindutva would prevail over the development agenda projected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the polls.
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Soon after taking oath of the office and secrecy, Adityanath addressed media persons to spell out the priorities of his government. “Development without any caste and religious consideration would be the top priority of my government. Focus would be on agriculture and to take forward Modiji’s sabka saath sabka vikas agenda,” he said.
He also directed all ministers and MLAs to declare their assets in 15 days. “As promised, my government is committed to improving law and order and a corruption-free administration,” he said.
No cabinet rank was given to any MLA from Modi’s constituency Varanasi. Minister of State with independent charge, Anil Rajbhar, and Minister of State Neelkant Tiwari are the two from the temple town. The body language of Adityanath clearly suggested that the hardliner in him is brimming with confidence to take on the state by storm.
Chanting “Modi Modi” and “Yogi Yogi”, BJP supporters cheered their leaders. Chants of Jai Shri Ram and Vande Ram forced the Governor to stop the swearing-in ceremony for a few minutes. It resumed after Modi signalled the crowd to remain silent.
Though Kalyan Singh’s grandson Sandeep Singh, MLA from Atrauli in Aligarh, the Rajasthan Governor’s bastion, was given a berth in the cabinet, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh, a first-timer from Noida, was not accommodated. The pain of his son being dropped was quite visible on Rajnath’s face.
Regional balance was sought to be maintained, with as many as 20 from eastern Uttar Pradesh, where the party won the maximum number of 129 seats. The most backward region of Bundelkhand, where the party made a clean sweep, winning all 19 seats, got only two ministers. Fourteen ministers are from western UP and eight from central UP, from where the BJP and its allies won 109 and 67 seats, respectively.
Lucknow was given the maximum representation with three, including two cabinet berths. Dr Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who swtiched over from the Congress in 2016, and Brajesh Pathak, who deserted the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Minister of State with independent charge Swati Singh, wife of Daya Shanker Singh, who was thrown out of the party for using derogatory language against BSP leader Mayawati, is the other minister from Lucknow.
Apart from Modi and Rajnath Singh, veteran leader LK Advani, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Uma Bharti, Kalraj Mishra, Anant Kumar, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, BJP National President Amit Shah, Manoj Tiwari, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, six Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states were among those who were present during the swearing-in ceremony. Though Mayawati was conspicuous by her absence, Samajwadi Party (SP) patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, and his son and outgoing CM Akhilesh Yadav were present on a personal invite from the PM. Although most of the time Modi was seen keeping a stoic face, shaking hands and congratulating the Council of Ministers, he accorded a warm welcome to Mulayam and patted Akhilesh on the shoulder. The gesture was generously reciprocated by both.
Mohsin Raza, a former Ranji cricketer, was a surprise Muslim face in the cabinet. He was sworn in as a Minister of State. Raza is not a member of either House of the state legislature like Yogi, Maurya, and Sharma. His surprise inclusion was to allay fears among the minority community, which forms 19.26 per cent of the state’s population.
Baldev Singh Aulakh was the only other minority community MLA. He was also given a Minister of State rank. An MLA from Bilaspur in Rampur, he is a stronghold of former SP cabinet minister Azam Khan. Both ministers from the minority community were picked up in line with Modi’s development agenda of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’.
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