Chhattisgarh: CM inducts nine new ministers

The Asian Age.  | Rabindra Nath Choudhury

India, All India

4 veterans ignored in Cabinet expansion.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel

Bhopal: Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday expanded his ministry by inducting nine Congress MLAs including a woman in it. With this, the strength of his ministry has gone up to 12.

Earlier, two ministers, T.S. Singhdeo and Tamradhwaj Sahu, were sworn-in along with Mr Baghel who had taken oath as CM on December 17.

The Bhupesh Baghel ministry has three members including a woman from Scheduled Tribe, two from Scheduled Caste and seven members including the CM from OBC communities. It has lone Muslim MLA.

Durg region got lion’s share in the ministry as it is represented by six members including the chief minister in the cabinet, while Bastar and Raipur regions have been represented by one minister each.

All the ministers took oath in Hindi. The portfolios are yet to be announced.

At least four veteran leaders in the party — former Union minister Charan Das Mahant, former ministers Satyanarayan Sharma, Amitesh Shukla and former Chhattisgarh Congress president Dhanendra Sahu were not included in the ministry, sparking strong resentment among their followers.

In fact, Mr Sahu and Mr Shukla boycotted the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers as a mark of protest for being ignored by the leadership.

Party’s Rajya Sabha member Chhaya Verma has been assigned the task of pacifying Mr Sahu.

Party sources said Mr Mahant may be considered for the post of speaker of Chhattisgarh assembly.

Later, talking to local media, Mr Baghel said the ministry was expanded after consultation with the AICC leadership.

Mr Baghel headed the first meeting of his cabinet in the evening in which the decision to return lands acquired for the abandoned Tata Steel project in Lohandiguda under Bastar district to the original owners, was approved.

Around 17,000 hectares have been acquired in ten villages under Lohandiguda block for the integrated steel plant project, which was shelved in 2016.