Five Bharatiya Janata Party leaders took oath as ministers in the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday, nearly a month after the swearing-in of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, ANI reported. Two of the five new ministers – Tulsi Silawat and Govind Singh Rajput – are loyalists of former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and had last month quit the party along with him to join the BJP.

The new ministers – the others being BJP MLAs Narottam Mishra, Kamal Patel and Meena Singh – were sworn in by Governor Lalji Tandon at the Raj Bhavan amid a countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus.

Chouhan took oath as the chief minister on March 23, three days after Congress leader Kamal Nath stepped down from the post ahead of a scheduled floor test in the Assembly. The demand for a floor test had arisen after Scindia joined the BJP, following which 22 MLAs who were his loyalists also quit the ruling party. Chouhan’s government won the trust vote in the Assembly. Since then, he has been the lone member of the Cabinet, functioning without a council of ministers.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa had served without a council of ministers for 22 days – a record that Chouhan broke last week.

Unidentified party officials told PTI that one of the issues faced by Chouhan in selecting his council of ministers is the size of the Cabinet in view of the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, the Congress has repeatedly criticised Chouhan and his government for functioning without a health minister, even as the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths reported in the state are on the rise.

As of Thursday, Madhya Pradesh recorded 1,299 coronavirus cases and 63 deaths, most of them in Indore and Bhopal.