New minister in state-Uttar Pradesh: Caste, religion, loyalty to SP key factors in deciding new names

Uttar Pradesh: Caste, religion, loyalty to SP key factors in deciding new names
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Thursday sacked eight ministers and stripped nine of their portfolios. Allowed a maximum of 60 ministers, the cabinet now has 14 vacancies.
Zahid Beg, an MLA from Bhadohi, is also in the race due to his affinity with Akhilesh who often had praised him for taking on the opposition benches in the Assembly
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)
With less than 48 hours to go for the fifth, and possibly the biggest, reshuffle of Akhilesh Yadav cabinet on Saturday, guessing games have begun on who all will find a berth in the council of ministers.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Thursday sacked eight ministers and stripped nine of their portfolios. Allowed a maximum of 60 ministers, the cabinet now has 14 vacancies.
Though no names have been announced so far, the ruling party’s office was abuzz with the names of probables even as SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav held a meeting with legislators and ministers.
Party insiders claimed that loyalty towards SP, caste and religious equations will decide the names of new ministers. Sources claimed that names have been already been decided by the Yadav family members who met two days ago at Mulayam’s residence. A leader who accompanied Akhilesh to Saharanpur for attending the funeral of minister Rajender Singh Rana, who passed away Tuesday, confided that CM did not take any names but rejected a woman legislator’s name on grounds that already the cabinet already had three ministers are from her district.
Among others, Shakir Ali from Deoria’s Patherdeva constituency and MLC Ashu Malik are strong contenders for ministerial berth, according to the party sources. Shakir was a minister during previous Mulayam regime and had defeated BJP’s former state president Surya Pratap Shahi in 2012. Malik, whom sources claimed that Mulayam had assured of a red beacon (vehicle), has been arranging meetings with Muslim clerics and affected families of riots. Recently, he had brought Dadri lynching victim Akhlaq’s family members to meet Akhilesh in Lucknow.
Among Muslim woman legislators, the race is between Ghazala Lari of Rampur Karkhana in Deoria and Shadab Fatima of Zahoorabad in Ghazipur. Both are experienced MLAs, but Shadab has an edge as she comes from Shia community and with cleric Kalbe Jawwad opening a front against Akhilesh government, her appointment may send a positive message. Hiowever, with cabinet already having three ministers from her district Ghazipur, making it to the council will be a little tough.
Zahid Beg, an MLA from Bhadohi, is also in the race due to his affinity with Akhilesh who often had praised him for taking on the opposition benches in the Assembly.
Among others, Avinash Kushwaha from Robertsganj (Sonbhadra) is making all efforts to book a berth. Presently, Kushwaha, who comes from a backward class, heads SP unit in Sonbhadra. Deepnarain Singh, a Yadav from Garautha in Jhansi district, is also seeking favours of SP leaders.
Few SP legislators are banking on minister Azam Khan’s support for ministerial posts. Ruchi Veera, a Jat, who had won from Bijnor in bypolls, is the front runner, while Badaun MLA Abid Raza is another name being close to Azam. MLC Sarojini Agarwal of Meerut is also named as one of the strong aspirants.
Recently appointed MLC S R S Yadav, too, is banking on his four-decade association with Mulayam for getting a ministerial berth. Ashok Bajpai, another MLC, is hopeful to get place in the cabinet after Mulayam held a truce meeting with Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal. Both belong to Hardoi and have been known as rivals.
Another half-a-dozen ministers are hoping to get elevated. MoS (independent charge) Arvind Singh Gope who is now state general secretary of SP, MoS Nitin Agarwal, Abhishek Mishra and Vijay Bahadur Pal are eyeing cabinet rank.

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