Controversy shrouds the expansion of the Akhilesh Yadav ministry on Monday with a social activist throwing a spanner by challenging before Governor Ram Naik the possible re-entry of tainted former Mines Minister Gayatri Prajapati.
The Governor is scheduled to administer oath of office and secrecy to some new ministers on Monday, a Raj Bhawan communique said.
With Prajapati's re-induction on the cards as part of a compromise formula to douse the flames in the Yadav clan that took the hue of a major political crisis recently, activist Nutan Thakur has petitioned the Governor against making him minister again.
This will be the eighth expansion of the Akhilesh Yadav government since it assumed office in 2012.
The UP council of ministers can have 60 ministers and there are three vacancies at present.
Another probable swearing in could be that of Ziauddin Rizvi, who was not able to take oath in July when the cabinet was last expanded. He was abroad then.
Nutan filed the petition before the Governor just 48 hours before the oath ceremony requesting him not to re-induct Prajapati.
In her petition, she said Prajapati was removed as minister on serious corruption charges after the order of Allahabad High Court for CBI enquiry and the CBI report was presented before the court.
She said a minister is removed from office under provisions of Article 164 of the Constitution when he loses the pleasure of the Governor.
Nutan said when Prajapati was removed as minister, he had lost the pleasure of the Governor. Hence, he cannot be re-inducted in the Ministry unless the facts and reasons on which he had lost the pleasure of the Governor get removed.
Prajapati began as Minister of State for Irrigation in February 2013 and was moved to the lucrative berth of mining, directly under Yadav who handled that portfolio.
In July 2013, Yadav elevated Prajapati to MoS (Independent Charge) and in January 2014, he was made a cabinet minister.
Meanwhile, Naik has given time in the evening to Nutan to present facts about her petition.
"I have been informed by Raj Bhawan that I should present facts to the governor in the evening," Nutan said.
Akhilesh had recently sacked Prajapati at a time when there were indications that the CBI was set to tighten the noose around Prajapati and officials of the state mining department.
The high court had asked the CBI to look into the role of government functionaries in allegations of illegal mining.
Prajapati was in news when Nutan had lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta, accusing him of corruption and gathering wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income. The Lokayukta had, however, dismissed the complaint on grounds that no such evidence was found against him.
But, as his sacking on September 12 set off a tsunami in the ruling party circles, taking the shape of an unprecedented political crisis ahead of the UP assembly elections due early next year, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had to chip in to end the impasse and as a compromise formula it was decided that he would be re-inducted, but with a different portfolio.
Akhilesh was said to be unhappy with the minister who was mired in controversy over allegations of promoting illegal mining.
The opposition, however, alleged that the sacking of the minister was just an eyewash to hide the corruption in mining sector.
"Illegal mining is rampant in the state and it is an open secret that he was promoting it. Now when the HC has taken serious view of the matter and ordered CBI probe, the CM's decision is mere an eyewash. It will not help as people know the reality," Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.
BJP state general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said it was good that CM has taken the decision to sack the minister.
"Our party has been raising the matter of illegal mining in the state. The decision should have been taken earlier," Pathak added.
Photograph: PTI Photo