After many delays, it is expected that an expansion of the council of ministers in Uttar Pradesh is due this evening. Senior administrative officers have been asked to make themselves available in their offices, despite this being a Sunday.
The state’s governor Anandiben Patel is also expected to reach Lucknow by late afternoon. The new ministers are expected to be administered their oaths this evening around 6pm at the Raj Bhawan.
While there is no official information available on the names to be included, there is speculation that expansion will include leaders from the backward and scheduled castes. The names doing the rounds are both from the party organisation and of elected representatives. In the former category are Baby Rani Maurya, who is the BJP vice president, Sanjay Gond, who is the party's BJP ST Morcha chief, and J.P.S. Rathore, a state level general secretary of the party.
Among the elected representatives are Sangeeta Bind nee Balwant who is a MLA from Ghazipur, Dinesh Khatik, MLA from Hastinapur and Chhatrapal Gangwar, MLA from Baheri. Among members of the state's legislative council likely to be inducted in the ministry, the top name is of Jitin Prasada who recently joined the party after quitting the Congress. Dharamveer Prajapati, also an MLC, is also on the list of hopefuls. Sanjay Nishad and Dadri MLA Tejpal Nagar are also strong hopefuls.
It remains to be seen if Arvind Kumar Sharma, a Gujarat cadre IAS officer who took voluntary retirement and joined the BJP, will also get a ministerial berth. Sharma was sent to the state to supposedly be the prime minister's eyes and ears, but has so far remained of little importance in the state setup.
The state government can have a maximum of 60 ministers. There are currently 54 ministers.
Whether the expected expansion will also see some removals is not clear.
The expansion, though it comes just six months before state elections, is supposed to help the government fix caste equations to harness votes.