Refurbishing UP govt image: Cabinet reshuffle, pruning of depts on the anvil

A ministerial rejig, pruning of 90 departments to 34, and a drive against corruption appear to be some of the measures being considered for damage control and refurbishing the image of beleaguered Yogi Adityanath government ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

As there are already 13 vacancies in 47-member Yogi ministry there have been speculations about ministerial expansion from time to time. The BJP’s defeat in the by-elections to Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats and rising voices of dissent have forced party leaders to work on measures to give more representation to neglected sections and have better cohesion between the government and workers of the party and allies.

“Yes, the chief minister is likely to reshuffle his more than one-year-old ministry soon. He is likely to drop non-performers and induct some new faces. A reshuffle will improve the connect with partymen and shift focus from the issues that have landed his government in controversies, one after the other, in recent weeks,” said a senior leader aware with the political developments following BJP chief Amit Shah’s marathon meeting with Yogi on Wednesday.

“A mechanism will be evolved for better cohesion between the government and the organization in the coming days,” said another party leader.

In a bid to refurbish the government’s image and improve delivery, measures will also be afoot to prune 90 departments of the state government to 34 in the coming weeks. An exercise to merge certain departments to check overlapping, and for better delivery, initiated in consultation with the NITI Ayog has been already completed.

Under the new arrangement a cabinet minister will be made incharge of every reorganized department while the ministers of state will assist the cabinet ministers to ensure effective functioning.

An administrative reshuffle will also be carried out to ensure that senior officers report to the minister incharge instead of reporting to two or more ministers.

Although a major part of Shah’s meeting with Yogi was one on one, the two deputy chief ministers, Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and UP BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey, UP BJP general secretary Sunil Bansal were among those who took part in discussions.

“We cannot say what transpired between Shah and Yogi during the meeting held with an objective of gearing up government and party organization, ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Actions on both political and administrative fronts will follow soon,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

The chief minister has already taken some of measures to build a pro-poor image of his government following the by-poll reverses. These include the decision to lift royalty from digging and carrying soil from one’s own land. Yogi has said the government will also waive the royalty charged from the brick kiln owners if they brought the prices of bricks down. His government may also take measures to check corruption in the coming days.