The expansion of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet in Madhya Pradesh — pending since March — will be conducted at 11 am tomorrow, sources said. The government, which can accommodate upto 28 ministers, has been functioning with five ministers since mid-April. Even they were inducted nearly a month after the Chief Minister took oath in March.
The delay — which officially has been attributed to coronavirus and the Rajya Sabha election — is linked more to disagreements over how ministry berths will be divided between the BJP and the former Congressmen who joined the party along with Jyotiraditya Scindia in March, pulling down the Congress government led by Kamal Nath.
Mr Scindia’s camp has demanded 11 berths — two of them have already been allotted during the last round of cabinet expansion, sources said.
But allotting nine more seats to them may cause dissent in the BJP camp, with leaders not ready to accommodate the newcomers. The Chief Minister also has reservations about the matter, sources said, being keen on his old team.
This has also caused a rift between him and the Central leaders of the party, which wants induction of new faces, sources said. The blueprint of the ministry needs a sign-off from the Central leaders and the Chief Minister has spent the week-end in Delhi, hoping to get everyone on the same page.
Party sources, however, said despite a series of meetings, there was no consensus on the matter.
The Central leadership is also miffed with Mr Chouhan for other reasons — including the GST raids in Indore. Questions are also being raised on officers closed to Mr Chouhan calling the tax fraud accused gutkha King Kishore Wadhwani, and the fiasco during Rajya Sabha polls, where a BJP MLA cross-voted.