Mood grim in BJP before MP cabinet expansion

Bhopal:  Twitter-sledging of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan by his predecessor Kamal Nath on Wednesday charged up the political atmosphere on the eve of the ministry expansion in Madhya Pradesh.
A sombre-looking Chouhan let out his frustration at being cramped on the choice of ministers. Many of his loyalists are likely to be kept out due to changed intra-party equations. “Both nectar and poison emerge whenever there is churning and Lord Shiva is ordained to accept the poison,” he said on being asked about the possible composition of the expanded ministry.
Kamal Nath seized the moment to get even with Chouhan. “The churning has gone on for so long, but no nectar has emerged. Only poison is (your) lot. Unending longing for nectar will continue from tomorrow but poison is all you have in store,” he tweeted.
The mood was far from celebratory in the chief minister’s camp as the party touched the 100-day milestone.
Chouhan who ran a one-man government for a month was happy with a four-member mini cabinet formed on April 21. It included two ministers from the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp. Scindia had crossed over to the BJP along with 22 supporters to topple the Kamal Nath ministry. He has been demanding his pound of flesh. To accommodate his supporters the BJP is forced to keep its own original aspirants waiting. This has hit the Chouhan camp hard.
With his pan-Madhya Pradesh appeal after 15 years in power Chouhan still remains his party’s best bet in its preparation for the unprecedented 24 by-elections to the state assembly.
Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, RSS point person and vice-president of the BJP, offered a formula to accommodate some younger members in the ministry while drafting some senior members for organisational duty. The issue was not resolved till Wednesday evening.
Scindia wants Tulsi Sialawat to be the deputy chief minister while the BJP Central leadership is keen on promoting Narottam Mishra, who as health and home minister is already doing its bidding. He has been eyeing Chouhan’s chair. Even before Chouhan was sworn in, in March Mishra supporters had demanded his elevation. Two deputy chief ministers would mean more frustration for the others senior to them.
BJP sources say the posts of Speaker and deputy chief ministers are still unresolved. Shivraj Singh wants former Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava to be the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. There is no consensus on the Speaker’s name three weeks before the crucial five-day budget-cum-monsoon session is scheduled to begin.
Bhargava who was the leader of the opposition till March has also expressed his unhappiness at the recent developments. He said the BJP is making the same mistakes as the Congress in denying the senior leaders their due. Saddled with the obligation to offer the maximum ministerial berths to defectors from the Congress the BJP has the onerous task of winning 24 by-elections with a growing list of dissidents from among the older members.
Scindia is in no mood to scale down his demands. There are others who were not his original camp followers, but have switched sides only in the hope of becoming ministers. They include an independent legislator Pradeep Jaiswal and BSP member Sanjeev Kushwaha who are not obliged to help the party win the by-elections so crucial for the BJP to stay in power.(ians)

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