With an eye on consolidating its base among other backward classes (OBCs), the BJP on Tuesday appointed Swatantra Dev Singh as its new Uttar Pradesh chief.
Singh is serving as Transport and Protocol Minister of State (Independent) in the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet. He will replace Mahendra Nath Pandey, who was named Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship after the recent Lok Sabha polls. Party’s national president Amit Shah announced the name.
A Kurmi (OBC), Singh belongs to Mirzapur in eastern UP with a strong RSS and BJP background.
Singh started his political career with student wing Akhil Bharitya Vidhyarthi Parishad, an affiliate of RSS, in the late 1980s. In past three decades, he has handled significant organisational responsibilities from being state president of the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha in 2001 to in-charge of the membership campaign in 2014 to in-charge of the then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rallies in the state in 2014. Singh has been particularly active in Bundelkhand region, especially in Jhansi, since his Yuva Morcha days.
In the recent Lok Sabha elections, he was election in charge of Madhya Paredesh.
Since Pandey was inducted into the Narendra Modi Cabinet, the BJP had been looking for a face who can lead the cadre not only in the upcoming bypolls on 12 seats but also the 2022 state polls.
He also served as a member of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council from 2004 to “010.
“He is the right choice as he is man of the cadre. In 2009, he was in charge of Lal Krishna Advani’s rallies in the state and has served as state general secretary and vice-president of the party in the state,” said a party leader, adding that he will serve as a bridge between the cadre and the government.
Sources informed Singh was in Varanasi when the party announced the decision on Tuesday. He was expected to arrive in Lucknow late on Tuesday night.
The first task before Singh will be to retain 10 of the 12 bypoll seats.