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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Newsmaker | Now in charge of UP health, Deputy CM Brajesh Pathak’s new test: walking the talk

Having established links with the RSS-BJP Brahmin network in the state, Brajesh Pathak’s rise in the ruling party was equally quick.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
Updated: July 28, 2022 2:26:49 pm
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak (Express/File)

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak is known as a leader unafraid of speaking his mind and for whom his approachability is a key strength. The “Brahmin face” of the second Yogi Adityanath government, Pathak questioned Health Secretary Amit Mohan Prasad earlier this week over the transfer of doctors.

Pathak is a professional lawyer. He cut his teeth in student politics at Lucknow University in 1990. The 58-year-old first came to the limelight as a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader when he won the Lok Sabha election from Unnao in 2004. He was so close to the BSP leadership that after four years he was sent to the Rajya Sabha and became the party’s deputy leader in the Upper House. Though Pathak remained with the party despite its loss in the 2012 Assembly elections, he jumped ship to the BJP ahead of the state polls a year before the next Assembly polls.

Having established links with the RSS-BJP Brahmin network in the state, Pathak’s rise in the ruling party was equally quick. He was rewarded with a Cabinet berth in the first term of the Adityanath government, serving as the Minister of Law. After the BJP retained power in the elections earlier this year, it pulled off a surprise by replacing its old hand and former Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma with Pathak as a Deputy CM.

Pathak’s hospital visits

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Pathak’s run-ins with the state health department began during the Covid-19 pandemic when he was among the few BJP leaders to question the government’s handling of the pandemic. He targeted the health department for not being prepared for the health crises that erupted in the state during the second wave. While the other BJP leaders who questioned the Adityanath government were either MPs or MLAs, Pathak stood out as he was a state Cabinet minister.

Party insiders said the Deputy CM was given the health portfolio to give him a chance to improve the functioning of a department he had questioned. The minister was seen making surprise visits to hospitals and health centres in the state Capital and districts and the videos of these visits proved to be popular. Pathak has often walked into the health facilities without his security entourage and has been seen talking to patients’ families about their difficulties and asking hospital administrations to provide financial records about the availability and purchase of medicines.

Though some online have mocked the minister and asked if a cameraperson was accompanying him to the hospital visits, state BJP leaders said Pathak feels that his approachability is one of his strengths that helps him connect with people and that is why he does not hesitate to continue making such visits to health facilities.

Party functionaries said Pathak was at the BJP national executive meeting in Hyderabad when he started receiving complaints about alleged irregularities in transfers of doctors. On Tuesday, the minister assured a doctor whose husband died recently that she would be posted in her home town of Prayagraj and not shifted out. This came a day after he wrote to Amit Mohan Prasad, questioning the transfer policy. Prasad was the top civil servant in the department during the peak of the Covid pandemic.

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First published on: 07-07-2022 at 12:44:59 pm

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