Rising above electoral bitterness and putting on the back burner their slanging matches during Uttar Pradesh campaign, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh and his father Mulayam attended the swearing in ceremony of Yogi Adityanath today.
After the the nearly 90-minute event at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan, the father-son duo moved towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and were seen exchanging pleasantries.
Reflecting warmth, Modi shook hands with Akhilesh and patted him on his shoulder. He also held the hands of Mulayam, who was seen whispering something to Modi.
And the Prime Minister was all ears.
In his rallies, Modi had ridiculed the opposition alliance of SP and Congress, saying they together stood for ‘SCAM’ (Samajwadi, Congress and Mayawati).
Not to be outdone, Akhilesh came out with his own take on SCAM, saying it stood for ‘Save Country from Amit (Shah) and Modi’.
His remark asking megastar Amitabh Bachchan not to endorse “donkeys of Gujara”t also left the BJP fuming, with Modi hitting back at the chief minister.
BSP supremo Mayawati, however, was not present at the venue.
Before taking oath as Minister of State (Independent charge), Swatantra Dev Singh forgot to greet Governor Ram Naik while proceeding towards the dais, but soon returned to say “namastey” when the slip was pointed out to him.
The elevation of Adityanath, who has had a chequered rapport with the BJP leadership, has left many puzzled, with political circles abuzz with talk of the RSS having prevailed over the party in deciding the chief minister.
However, RSS Joint General Secretary V Bhagaiah told reporters in Coimbatore that it was a political decision and RSS had no say in the selection of chief ministers in BJP-ruled states.
Often caught in controversy because of his speeches, Adityanath, who heads the Gorakhnath Mutt, allegedly led a “purification” drive for conversion of Christians to Hinduism in 2005.
In 2015, he had said those who oppose yoga can leave India and that they should all be drowned.
He was arrested for allegedly inciting Gorakhpur riots in 2007.
Adityanath, who has been accused by opposition parties of being a divisive political figure, enjoys considerable popularity in the state and is known to make provocative statements, be it about Islam or Pakistan.
A strong votary of construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, he drove BJP’s Hindutva campaign in the eastern UP in the just concluded Assembly polls.
Besides Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, the 22 other cabinet ministers sworn-in include Surya Pratap Shahi, Suresh Kumar Khanna, Swami Prasad Maurya, Satish Mahana, Rajesh Agarwal, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Dara Singh Chauhan, Dharampal Singh, SP Singh Baghel and Satyadev Pachauri.
The rest of the cabinet ministers are Ramapati Shastri, Jai Prakash Singh, Om Prakash Rajbhar, Brijesh Pathak, Lakshmi Narain Chowdhury, Chetan Chauhan, Srikant Sharma, Rajendra Pratap Singh alias Moti Singh, Siddharth Nath Singh, Mukut Bihari Verma, Ashutosh Tondon and Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi.
The governor also administered the oath of office and secrecy to nine ministers of state (independent charge).
They are Anupma Jaiswal, Suresh Rana, Upendra Tiwari, Mahendra Kumar Singh, Swatantra Dev Singh, Bhupendra Singh Chowdhury, Dharam Singh Saini, Anil Rajbhar and Swati Singh.
The thirteen ministers of state who took oath are Gulab Devi, Jai Prakash Nishad, Archana Pandey, Jai Kumar Singh Jacky, Atul Garg, Ranvendra Pratap Singh alias Dhunni Singh, Nilkanth Tiwari, Mohsin Raza, Girish Chandra Yadav, Baldev Olekh, Mannu Kori, Sandeep Singh and Suresh Pasi.
With this, the Adityanath government has 24 cabinet ministers, including two deputy CMs, nine MoS (independent charge) and 13 ministers of state. Five of the ministers are women.
Before Adityanath, Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh of BJP had served as UP chief minister. Kalyan Singh, now Rajasthan governor, held the high office twice.