Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today inducted 12 new faces in his ministry and promoted eight ministers, the biggest revamp exercise as the ruling Samajwadi Party focuses on a massive image makeover with an eye on the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
Five cabinet ministers, eight Ministers of State with Independent charge and seven Ministers of State were administered oath by Governor Ram Naik at Raj Bhawan here.
A surprise addition was Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who quit Akali Dal in Punjab and took oath as UP Cabinet minister. This is the sixth Cabinet reshuffle after SP stormed to power in 2012 with a thumping majority and is apparently Akhilesh's attempt to put his stamp on the 43-month-old government which was seen to be in the shadow of the old guard.
With several ministers facing accusations of inefficiency, the Chief Minister had on Thursday sacked eight ministers and stripped nine others of their portfolios. Ministers of state with independent charge Arvind Singh Gope and Kamal Akhtar have been elevated as cabinet ministers along with Vinod Kumar Singh alias Pandit Singh.
Besides Ramoowalia, Sahab Singh Saini is another new face to have found berth in the Cabinet. Shadab Fatima and Madan Chauhan are the new inductees to the rank of ministers of state (independent charge).
The new-look ministry has younger leaders apparently to counter suggestions that his father and Samajawadi Party chief Mulayan Singh Yadav and uncles were running the show and also keeps in the mind the caste dynamics of the politically crucial state, where the SP was wiped off by BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
None of the axed ministers were rehabilitated in today's exercise though some of them had approached party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Riyaz Ahmed, Farid Mahmood Kidwai, Mool Chand Chauhan, Ram Sakal Gurjar, Nitin Agarwal and Yasser Shah who were ministers of state earlier, have been promoted to MOS with independent charge.
The ministers of state who were sworn in today area Radhey Shayam Singh, Shailendra Yadav Lalai, Omkar Singh, Pawan Pandey, Sudhir Kumar Rawat, Laxmikant alias Pappu Nishad and Vanshidhar Baudh.
MoS Hemraj Verma was not present at the oath-taking ceremony.
74-year-old Ramoowalia was Labour Minister in the United Front government at the Centre headed by H D Deve Gowda.