The twice-postponed meeting of the Madhya Pradesh cabinet which was expanded a week ago was cancelled on Thursday evening. The meeting was first scheduled for 10.30 a.m. The dramatic arrest of Kanpur gangster Vikas Dubey and the subsequent bustle in the administration was said to the immediate cause for the postponement.
Insiders, however, said the stalemate over allocation of portfolios is the reason for the cancellation. Chouhan who met the state party president V.D. Sharma and the national vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe on Thursday afternoon did not specify the reasons for the cancellation of the cabinet meeting.
Party sources say the delay in allocation suits the chief minister as he will have fewer conflicts with the colleagues who come from diverse political cultures. On being persistently questioned the distribution of work among colleagues, Chouhan said he heads all the portfolios for now. He was in any case not happy with the cramped existence with the central leadership refusing to accommodate more than four of his close confidantes. His adversaries within the party like Gopal Bhargava can’t do much against his wishes without a portfolio.
But he cannot wish away the frustration among colleagues. The resentment is doubled because some key areas and caste configurations have been overlooked in the ministry formation and key portfolios are being reserved for the new arrivals into the party. The original members are restive and may not show the required commitment to work for the party in the by-elections.
Former Health Minister and BJP MLA from Jabalpur, Ajay Bishnoi has obliquely criticised the party over the situation saying the BJP workers might get unhappy over the continuous humiliation of their leader. “First it was the number of ministers and now the allocation of portfolios. I am afraid the common worker of the BJP might get unhappy over the humiliation of our leader. We stand to lose,” Bishnoi said without naming Shivraj or Scindia in a tweet on Wednesday. Regardless of the ulterior motives Bishnoi’s remarks ring ominously true for the ruling party.
It is no secret that Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose obduracy during the Congress regime cost the party its 15-month-old government in the state, is not relenting in the new party either. He wants all plum departments for his group which has not homogenised with the BJP yet.
Chouhan, who assumed office on March 23, carried on single-handed for a month and added just four ministers including two from the Scindia group. He took another couple of months before adding 28 ministers. For eight days now the new ministers have no work as the BJP leadership has shown no urgency to end the deadlock. Slackening hold on the administration may cost the party dear in the by-elections.