Yogi inducts 18 new members

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister on Wednesday inducted 18 new members in his council of ministers, the first such reshuffle since the BJP government came to power in the state two and a half years back.
Twenty-three ministers – the 18 new faces and five others who were elevated from the minister of state rank they held earlier – were sworn in by Governor Anandiben Patel at the Raj Bhavan. Six of the 23 were sworn in as cabinet ministers, six as ministers of state with an independent charge and the remaining 11 get the MoS rank. Their portfolios are likely to be announced later. Five ministers resigned Tuesday night from the original 43-member ministry.
Among the six sworn in as cabinet ministers, four were earlier ministers of state with independent charge. Another was elevated to the rank of MoS with an independent charge. Two new faces – Ram Naresh Agnihotri and Kamal Rani Varun – joined as cabinet ministers.
The four MoS-rank ministers promoted to the cabinet-level include Suresh Rana (49), a two-time MLA from Thana Bhawan in western Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli, whose name figures in cases related to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.
Among the others, Mahendra Singh is apparently being rewarded for his performance as the in-charge of the party’s affairs in Assam in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Also elevated is Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, a prominent Jat leader in western Uttar Pradesh.
The chief minister promoted Anil Rajbhar as a cabinet minister to fill the gap caused by the exit of Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, who has considerable influence in the Rajbhar community.
First-time MLA but a BJP veteran, Ram Naresh Agnihotri, who represents Bhogaon assembly segment of Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency, has been inducted as a cabinet minister. Mainpuri is considered a stronghold of the opposition Samajwadi Party. Agnihotri has been associated with the party since 1980 and was a member of the legislative council in the past. The second fresh induction at that level, former Kanpur MP Kamal Rani Varun, represents Ghatampur (SC) seat in the assembly. She is now the only woman cabinet minister following Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s resignation after getting elected to the Lok Sabha. Another woman, Neelima Katiyar, took oath as a minister of state. Neelkanth Tewari, who now gets an independent charge as MoS, was earlier the minister of state for Information. Tewari represents Varanasi South assembly segment in the high-profile Lok Sabha constituency represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. No representative of BJP ally Apna Dal (S) got a berth in Wednesday’s expansion. The NDA partner has eight members in the state assembly and one in the legislative council. Only one of them, Jai Kumar Singh, is an MoS. Those who resigned a day before the reshuffle are Transport Minister Swatantra Dev Singh, Finance Minister Rajesh Agarwal, Basic Education Minister Anupama Jaiswal, Irrigation Minister Dharmapal Singh and Mining Minister Archana Pandey, a press statement said. (PTI)