The BJP may have scripted a spectacular win in West Bengal, getting 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, but the Union Cabinet will not have anyone from the state. In fact, Bengal, Odisha and the North-East, which together account for 44 of the BJP’s 303 MPs, have only one Cabinet Minister — Dharmendra Pradhan.
There are two Ministers of State (MoS) from West Bengal — Babul Supriyo, who was an MoS in the previous government also and Debasree Chaudhuri, a first-time MP from Raiganj who was earlier a general secretary of the state party unit and state BJP Mahila Morcha chief.
While there was speculation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may induct more MPs from West Bengal in his government — the party’s state unit was reportedly pushing for four berths — the BJP also needs its leaders on the ground ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections in the state.
Pratap Chandra Sarangi, a two-time MLA from Odisha who won the Balasore Lok Sabha seat this time, has been inducted as a Minister of State.
Assam is represented by Rameswar Teli, who won the Dibrugarh seat for the second consecutive term. A BJP old-timer, he was earlier an MLA for two terms.
The emphasis seems to be on rewarding experience and loyalty to the party.
Making inroads in West Bengal, Odisha and the North-East has been high on the BJP’s agenda. The government has been generous in budgetary outlays to the North-East, especially in the infrastructure sectors of railways and highways, focussing on connectivity, skill development and political outreach.