By Mohit Dubey
Lucknow– Firebrand leader Yogi Adityanath on Sunday took charge of Uttar Pradesh as its 21st Chief Minister, heading a 47-member ministry that included known Hindutva faces and political turncoats.
The oath taking at Smriti Upvan, which marked the return of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in the country’s most populous state, was watched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, BJP Chief Ministers besides thousands of cheering supporters.
Governor Ram Naik administered the oath of office and secrecy to Yogi Adityanath, a Gorakhpur MP known for his hardline Hindutva views, Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma as well as 44 ministers.
There are 22 members of the cabinet, nine ministers of state with independent charge and 13 ministers of state.
Om Prakash Rajbhar, leader of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, a BJP ally, was also sworn in as a cabinet minister.
The sole Muslim in the ministry is former cricketer Mohsin Raza, who is not a member of the assembly as the BJP did not field any Muslim in the election. Raza is a minister with independent charge.
Baldev Olakh, who won from Bilaspur, is the Sikh face of the ministry.
Dressed in his characteristic saffron robes, Adityanath, after taking oath, walked over to and sought the blessings of BJP veterans L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi as well as Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister and a Lucknow MP.
Adityanath, 44, was born in Uttarakhand and left his home in 1990 to join the Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur. He has been elected from Gorakhpur to the Lok Sabha since 1998.
As celebrations erupted in Adityanath’s native village Panchur in Uttarakhand and Gorakhpur town, Modi congratulated the new Chief Minister and his team and hoped they will transform Uttar Pradesh into “Uttam Pradesh”.
“I have immense confidence that this new team will leave no stone unturned in making UP Uttam Pradesh,” tweeted Modi, a star attraction at the Sunday event. “There will be record development… When UP develops, India develops.”
Prominent among the cabinet ministers are veteran BJP legislators Surya Pratap Shahi, Suresh Khanna, a seven-time legislator from Shahjahanpur, Ramapati Shastri, Rajesh Agarwal, a six-term MLA from Bareilly Cantt, Satish Mahana and Satyadeo Pachauri.
Three Lucknow legislators – Brajesh Pathak, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Ashutosh Tandon — also made it to the cabinet. The fourth Lucknow MLA, Swati Singh, became a minister of state with independent charge.
Political turncoats who contested on BJP ticket and got a place in the ministry included Swamy Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Brajesh Pathak (all ex-BJP) and Rita Bahuguna Joshi, a former Congress leader who defeated Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav.
Four women – Gulabo Devi, Archana Pandey, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Swati Singh — are in the government. The BJP gave ticket to 43 women – 32 won.
While seven Thakurs, including the Chief Minister, were sworn in, eight Brahmins and 17 OBCs and MBCs also found a place in the government. There are seven Dalit and eight Vaishya ministers.
The ministry also includes Suresh Rana, an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots in which 63 people were killed and thousands rendered homeless.
The Chief Ministers in attendance were N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Devendra Phadnavis (Mahrashtra), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam) and Vijay Rupani (Gujarat).
The BJP won 325 of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh along with allies Apna Dal and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party.