UP CM sacks 8 ministers, emasculates another 9

In a move widely believed to be an attempt at reviving the sagging public image of his government, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday undertook a major reshuffle in his team, dismissing eight ministers and stripping nine ministers of their portfolios.

It is also being seen as a move by the CM to move out of the shadows of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and put his own stamp on the ministry.

The move was expected, but only after the Bihar assembly elections scheduled to end next month. The portfolios of all 17 ministers will vest in the chief minister till the oath-taking of new entrants and allocation of work, which will be held on 31 October.

Speculations about this exercise had grown after Akhilesh met the state governor Ram Naik in Lucknow on 28 October to discuss the expansion of his cabinet.

According to a notification from Raj Bhawan, the governor, on the advice of the chief minister, removed cabinet ministers Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh (Stamps, Registration and Civil Defence), Ambika Chaudhary Backward Classes and Handicapped Welfare), Shiv Kumar Beriya (Textiles and Silk), Narad Rai (Khadi and Village Industries), Shivakant Ojha (Technical Education), Ministers of State Alok Kumar Shakya (Technical Education), Yogesh Pratap Singh (Basic Education), and Bhagwat Sharan Gangwar (Micro, Small and Medium Industries).

In a more surprising move, the departments of nine cabinet ministers have been withdrawn. These include Ahmad Hasan (Health and Family Welfare), Raghvendra Pratap Singh 'Raja Bhaiya' (Food and Civil Supplies), Awadhesh Prasad (Social Welfare, Scheduled Castes and Tribes Welfare), Paras Nath Yadav (Horticulture and Food Processing), Ram Govind Chaudhary (Basic Education), Durga Prasad Yadav (Transport), Brahma Shankar Tripathi (Home Guards), Iqbal Mahmood (Fisheries and Public Enterprises) and Mahboob Ali (Secondary Education).

Significantly, there has been a complete revamp in the field of education, and there will be new faces handling technical, secondary and basic education.

Most of the leaders affected in the reshuffle are veterans in the ruling party, and the action against them indicates a sense of urgency on the part of the chief minister to undertake an image makeover. It also indicates that Akhilesh could finally be taking decisions on his own, since most of the individuals included in Thursday's exercise are considered to be close to the Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Notable among them are Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh, Ambika Chaudhary, Shivakant Ojha, Ahmed Hasan, Raghvendra Pratap Singh, Durga Prasad Yadav and Paras Nath Yadav.

According to party sources, most of the affected ministers were found unable to control growing factionalism in the party in their districts, while others, especially in education and industries, were facing charges of corruption.

For the last several months, Mulayam Singh Yadav had been saying at public platforms that many ministers were not doing their jobs properly and had asked Akhilesh to remove them. Mulayam had also been saying that he was receiving complaints from party workers about many ministers failing to get any work done in their areas.