By inducting three fresh faces from Uttar Pradesh into the union council of of ministers today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attempted to balance caste equations in the run-up to the UP assembly polls and also increase the dominance of poll-bound states in the central government.
The new ministers include BJP’s Chandauli MP Mahendra Pandey (Brahmin), Shahjahanpur MP Krishna Raj (Dalit) and Apna Dal MP from Mirzapur Anupriya Patel (Kurmi-OBC). Interestingly, all of them are first time MPs. By increasing the number of MPs from UP, Modi has tried to give message that he honors the mandate that UP voters gave BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha election when 71 BJP candidates and two of its ally Apna Dal won.
The union council of ministers until Monday had 12 ministers from UP besides the PM himself: five cabinet ministers, three ministers of state (independent charge) and four ministers of state. When Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was inducted into the council of ministers in 2014, he was Rajya Sabha member from UP but then the party set him to Upper House in from Jharkhand in recent polls. With this new induction, UP has more ministers at the Centre than ever before.
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On June 13 at the Parivartan Rally in Allahabad , Modi had pointed towards Union Ministers seated on the dais said said, “Manch dekhkar lagta hoga ki kendra sarkar me UP ka kitna dabdaba hai.” (The stage shows dominance of UP in Central government.) Modi himself is an MP from Varanasi. At a rally in Saharanpur on May 26, Modi had said, “I am a UP wala, an MP from UP.”
As per caste equations, Krishna Raj has been inducted in the government to target the Dalit vote bank of Bahujan Samaj Party that is in crisis these days due to the defection of two senior leader including RK Chaudhary (Dalit) and Swami Prasad Maurya (OBC). Another Dalit MP from Agra– Ram Shanker Katheria– is Minister of State for HRD at present but sources said that he will be removed from government and shifted back to the party organisation.
A post graduate business person and MP from the reserved constituency of Shahjahanpur, Krishna Raj had been MLA from the reserved seats of Mohammadi in 1996 and 2007. She had lost the assembly election in 2012 from Kasta.
She had also lost Lok Sabha elections from Shahjahanpur in 2009.
Mirzapur MP Anupriya Patel is daughter of Kurmi leader late Sone Lal Patel. She contested her first assembly election from Rohaniya in Varanasi in 2012 to win as an Apna Dal candidate, the party founded by her father. She catapulted the little known party to the national spotlight when she got an alliance with the BJP on two seats of Mirzapur and Pratapgarh and won both the seats with the help of Modi wave. BJP’s current national president–
Amit Shah who was national general secretary in-charge of UP in Lok Sabha polls– had played a key role in the alliance with Apna Dal.
A graduate from Lady Sri Ram College of Delhi University, Anupriya had vacated the Rohaniya assembly seat after winning the Lok Sabha election. Her mother Krishna Patel had lost by-elections from Rohaniya in 2014.
OBC dominated Rohaniya falls in Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi where Shah addressed a Jan Swabhiman Rally on July 2, on the birth anniversary of Sone Lal Patel. Anupriya had organised that rally and the BJP had then announced that both parties would continue their alliance in the 2017 assembly polls too.
Anupriya’s induction can be seen as an attempt to balance the OBC caste equation after the Samajwadi Party recently took back senior leader and ex-union minister Beni Prasad Verma (a Kurmi) and sent him to Rajya Sabha.
BJP MP from Chandauli Mahendra Nath Pandey is considered close to both Shah and Modi and his induction is aimed at reviving support of Brahmins voters who drifted towards the BSP in 2007 and 2012 assembly polls. Pandey is the MP from Chandauli, but he is chairperson of the vigilance and monitoring committee of development projects for Modi’s Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency too.
Pandey had been BJP MLA from Saidpur in 1991 and 1996 and he was minister in governments led by Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh. With an ABVP background, Pandey had been BJP’s state general secretary in the past.