WITH TWO more MPs from eastern UP being inducted into the Union Cabinet on Tuesday, the party now has four Union ministers, besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi representing Varanasi, from the region.
While Deoria MP Kalraj Mishra and Ghazipur MP Manoj Sinha are already in the Union cabinet, Apna Dal MP from Mirzapur, Anupriya Patel, and BJP MP from Chandauli, Mahendra Nath Pandey, were the two new faces inducted in the council of ministers from eastern UP on Tuesday.
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Mirzapur, Chandauli and Ghazipur share border with Varanasi. The party is making all efforts to win maximum number of seats in the Kashi region in the 2017 Assembly polls.
BJP leaders said Apna Dal’s support will help the party attract the considerable Other Backward Castes (OBC) voters of eastern UP — specially in Varanasi, Mirzapur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Mau, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Pratapgarh, Deoria and Kushinagar.
“After appointing an OBC, Keshav Prasad Maurya, as the state BJP president, Anupriya’s induction in the Cabinet could help the party to counter SP leader Beni Prasad Verma and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar targeting OBC votes, especially the Kurmis,” said a leader.
Moreover, Mahendra Nath Pandey induction in the cabinet would help BJP woo upper castes in eastern UP.
BJP state spokesperson Ashok Pandey, who camps in Varanasi, said: “Such a Cabinet expansion was needed for the development of eastern UP. Now, more Union ministers will come here and this will help in the growth of the region.”
Among the 403 Assembly seats in UP, over 100 fall in eastern UP. But BJP only has a dozen MLAs in the region. While most of the seats were won by SP, the rest were secured by BSP in the 2012 state polls. In Gorakhpur region that has 62 seats, BJP had won eight in 2012. There are over a dozen constituencies in the region where BJP has never won an election.
On May 31, BJP national president Amit Shah had lunch with OBC and Dalit families at the residence of an OBC BJP worker in Varanasi’s Sevapuri segment. The same day, he had addressed Sardar Patel Kisan Mahasammelan in OBC-dominated Jhunsi area of Allahabad.
On July 2, while addressing a Jan Swabhiman rally at Rohaniya in Varanasi, Shah had said that Nitish was touring eastern UP to play the role of a “vote-cutter” and help SP. The rally was organised by Anupriya Patel to mark the birth anniversary of her father Sone Lal Patel — a popular Kurmi leader in the region.
In Basti, recently, Shah had announced that the PM would visit Gorakhpur on July 22 to unveil the statue of former head priest of Gorakhnath temple, Mahant Avaidyanath, and lay foundation stone for the reopening of a fertilizer factory that has been lying closed since 1990. Shah is also set to visit Mau in eastern UP on July 9 to address a rally.
On June 13, BJP had held its national executive meeting in Allahabad and also addressed a rally where most of the crowd was from eastern and central UP. There, the PM, while pointing towards Union ministers seated on the dais, had said: “Manch dekh kar lagta hoga ki kendra sarkar me UP ka kitna dabdaba hai. (The stage shows dominance of UP in the central government).”
Earlier in May, Modi had launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) — which promises free LPG connections to 5 crore BPL families in the next three years — from Ballia district of eastern UP.