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Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan expands cabinet amid Covid-19 lockdown

  
  
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  The five ministers, including a woman and two former legislators, were sworn in by Governor Lalji Tandon at a simple function in the Raj Bhawan amid the Covid-19 lockdown. (News Agencies) Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan constituted his cabinet with five ministers on Tuesday, nearly a month after he was sworn-in as the central state’s head for the fourth time. The five, including a woman and two former legislators, were sworn in by Governor Lalji Tandon at a simple function in the Raj Bhawan amid the Covid-19 lockdown. Narottam Mishra, Tulsi Silavat, Kamal Patel, Govind Singh Rajput and Meena Singh took the oath of office as Chouhan kept the size of his cabinet small on expected lines. The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader is expected to expand his cabinet after the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted on May 3. Cabinet’s composition Chouhan had been holding discussions with senior party leaders in Delhi in the past few days about the size and the possible faces in the cabinet. Silavat and Rajput are loyalists of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia. They were ministers in Congress government too which was dislodged by the BJP last month. ilavat and Rajput, along with four other ministers and 18 Congress MLAs, resigned in March from the state assembly in their rebellion against the then chief minister Kamal Nath. Mishra, Patel and Singh are also old hands and had served as ministers in the then BJP government. Caste and regional combinations were also taken into consideration while constituting the cabinet. Mishra from Gwalior-Chambal region is a Brahmin while Silavat from Malwa region comes from Scheduled castes. Patel from central MP represents the other backward classes while Singh from the Vindhya region is a tribal leader. Rajput, who is from Bundelkhand, is a member of the upper caste. Mishra and Silavat both have been health ministers in the then BJP and then Congress governments. Criticism over Covid-19 Shivraj Singh Chouhan was sworn in as the chief minister on March 23. He faced flak from the opposition and on social media for running his government without a cabinet, particularly without a health minister, as the Covid-19 situation continued to worsen in the state. When Chouhan assumed office the coronavirus pandemic was rearing its head in the state with only seven Covid-19 cases registered in two districts. But in the span of about 29 days, the state has registered as many as 1485 Covid-19 cases with 76 of them dead and as many as 26 of its 52 districts affected. Madhya Pradesh has emerged as one of the worst managed states in the country during the period with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan blaming the then Congress government for the present situation in the state. It the same time, Indore has become one of the major hotspots in the country, prompting the central government to send a team on Monday to the city to assess and manage the situation. “To become a one-man army, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan put in peril the lives of 7.50 crore people of Madhya Pradesh. The CM is busy in his branding and publicity instead of protecting people of the state from Corona. In Madhya Pradesh, the situation is going from bad to worse,” Ajay Singh, senior Congress leader and former leader of the opposition, had said on April 10. Later, Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha in a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind urged him to impose a President’s rule in the state if Chouhan failed to constitute his cabinet.
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