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SS Chouhan Gets Agriculture, MLKhattarPower


New Delhi:

As the Modi 3.0 government revealed portfolio allocations – a hotly-contested and closely-watched exercise given expectations from the BJP’s National Democratic Allies – there was good news for two veterans from the saffron party. Ex-Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar, 70, and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Chouhan, 65, found space in the cabinet.

Mr Khattar, who won the Karnal Lok Sabha seat, has been given dual charge of the high-profile Power and Housing ministries. Mr Chouhan, who returned to claim the Vidisha seat he held for five consecutive elections between 1991 and 2004, is the Agriculture Minister.

The allocations have been seen as rewards for the two senior leaders after being stood down from the chief minister’s post in their respective states. 

Mr Khattar had been Chief Minister of Haryana for a decade till the BJP’s surprise reshuffle of its state administration, a measure prompted by concerns over anti-incumbency ahead of an Assembly election later this year. The BJP has, in the past, changed out chief ministers and rearranged cabinets before state elections for that reason. That was the tactic before polls in Gujarat and Uttarakhand, which the party won, and in Karnataka, which it lost.

The changing of the Haryana Chief Minister – now Nayab Singh Saini – was also linked to failed seat-sharing talks with state allies JJP ahead of the Lok Sabha election. 

Meanwhile, Mr Chouhan has been seen as getting his dues after stepping down from the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister’s post after last year’s election win. The former four-time Chief Minister engineered the BJP’s big win thanks largely to his women-centric campaign.

However, the party opted to install the unknown Mohan Yadav in his post instead, with a wary eye on caste equations ahead of the Lok Sabha election. 

The BJP swept the state for a second consecutive year.

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