Updated: September 9, 2021 7:18:12 am
With Uttar Pradesh and Punjab among states headed to Assembly polls early next year, the government and the ruling BJP have switched to election mode, deploying 13 Union ministers, including seven of Cabinet rank, for poll-related duties in the states.
In the list of names released by the BJP Wednesday, the most prominent was the appointment of Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, a veteran of many political battles, as the party in-charge for elections in the key state of Uttar Pradesh.
He will be assisted by Union ministers Anurag Singh Thakur, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Shobha Karandlaje, Annapurna Devi, former Haryana minister Captain Abhimanyu, Rajya Sabha MPs Saroj Pandey and Vivek Thakur.
Lok Sabha MP Sanjay Bhatia, Bihar MLA Sanjiv Chaurasia, BJP national secretaries Y Satya Kumar and Arvind Menon, UP leader Sunil Ojha and the party’s co-treasurer Sudhir Gupta will head operations in western UP, Braj, Awadh, Gorakhpur, Kashi and Kanpur regions respectively.
Uttar Pradesh is one state where victory is crucial for the party in its bid to return to power for a third consecutive term in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Moved recently from the Petroleum ministry to the Education ministry, Pradhan is considered close to the BJP’s top leadership. His appointment as the UP in-charge – the results there will have a bearing on the 2022 Presidential elections and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls — shows the leadership’s confidence and trust in him, party insiders said.
Incidentally, J P Nadda, who was given charge of the state during the 2017 assembly elections, rose to become the BJP president. Union Home Minister Amit Shah too steered the party’s electioneering in UP in 2014 before becoming BJP president.
Pradhan was the election in-charge in Bihar and in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka and Uttarakhand. He was the poll in-charge for Nandigram in West Bengal where TMC leader and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lost despite leading the party to a landslide victory recently.
Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Shekhawat has been entrusted with charge of Punjab where the BJP is under fire for the farm laws that triggered farmer protests last year. He will be assisted by ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Meenakshi Lekhi and Lok Sabha MP Vinod Chavda.
For Uttarakhand, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi has been made in-charge. Lok Sabha MP Locket Chatterjee and party spokesperson RP Singh will be co-in-charge in the state.
The BJP recently changed its Chief Minister – for the third time in this assembly term. The appointment of Pushkar Singh Dhami, who replaced Tirath Singh Rawat after just four months, has given fresh hopes to the state unit which has been battling internal feud and anti-incumbency.
Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav will be the party in-charge for Manipur.
Yadav, who had managed the BJP’s campaign and election works in several states including Gujarat and Bihar, will be assisted by minister Pratima Bhoumik and Assam minister Ashok Singhal. Yadav is also in-charge of Gujarat which will be going to polls later in 2022.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who played a role in BJP’s victory in Bihar, has been made party election in-charge for Goa. Ministers G Kishan Reddy and Darshana Jardosh will be co-in-charge in Goa.
The BJP is in power in all states barring Punjab where traditional ally SAD too quit the NDA in protest against the farm laws.
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