Why BJP allowed Jyotiraditya Scindia to overshadow Shivraj Singh Chouhan

More than three months after taking oath as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for a fourth term, Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday undertook a much-anticipated exercise to expand his Cabinet. The second Cabinet expansion in the last three months saw 28 new faces join the Council of Ministers which was just six-strong until now. The five ministers, other than Shivraj himself, had taken oath in April. Two of them were from the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp. Of the 28 members who took oath on Thursday, 9 are Scindia loyalists. In total, Jyotiradiya Scindia now has 11 of his supporters in the state Cabinet.

A lot has been discussed on the delay in the cabinet expansion, the most crucial being Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s apparent failure to have his way with the central leadership. It has been reported that Shivraj held several rounds of meetings with party president JP Nadda as well as Home minister Amit Shah but failed to convince them to allow him a greater say in the expansion of his council of ministers. Jyotiraditya Scindia, who engineered BJP and Chouhan’s return to power, dug in his heels and refused to cede any ground as far as the induction of his supporters into the cabinet was concerned.

nd he eventually did have his way. Governor Anandiben Patel today administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new minister in the presence of CM Shivraj and Rajya Sabha MP Scindia. The leaders who took oath first included BJP leaders Gopal Bhargava, Vijay Shah, Jagdish Devda, former Congress leader Bisahulal Singh, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, former minister Bhupendra Singh, former Congress leader Aidal Singh Kansana, Brijendra Pratap Singh and Vishwas Sarang.

The next set of leaders to take oath included Scindia loyalists — Imarti Devi, Dr Prabhuram Chaudhar, Mahendra Singh Sisodiya, Pradyumna Singh Tomar, Rajyavardhan Singh, Brijendra Singh Yadav, Girraj Dandotiya, OPS Bhadoria and Suresh Dhakad. Those inducted from the Scindia camp are not MLAs as they resigned from the Assembly in March, leading to the fall of the 15-month-old Congress government headed by Kamal Nath. They will be contesting the Assembly bypolls to 24 seats vacant in the state.

So why did the BJP allow Scindia to have his way while Chouhan had to resign to the fact that he had been overruled? Ahead of the cabinet expansion, Shivraj made a cryptic comment: “Amrit (nectar) comes out of the churning of the ocean, as Shiva consumes vish (poison)”. The comment signified that he had been forced to take a bitter pill on the choice of ministers to be inducted into his team.

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