Uttar Pradesh minister of state (MoS) for Jal Shakti, Dinesh Khatik, made headlines Wednesday by offering his resignation through a letter addressed to Union home minister Amit Shah instead of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. In the letter, which went viral, Khatik alleged corruption in his ministry and that he was being ignored by officials because of his Dalit identity.
While sources in the Raj Bhavan said they had received Khatik’s resignation letter, there was no confirmation from the government on his resignation till Wednesday night.
The 45-year-old two-term MLA from Meerut’s Hastinapur Assembly constituency, Khatik is one of the BJP’s prominent Dalit leaders in western UP. He was one of the eight Dalit faces Adityanath inducted into his ministry after taking charge as the CM in March for the second consecutive term.
Like his father, Khatik has had an association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). His rise in politics has been remarkable. He got elected as the MLA from Hastinapur for the first time in the 2017 Assembly elections swept by the BJP. In the succeeding years, he carved his place in Meerut politics by constantly taking up local issues with the government and getting various projects and welfare schemes cleared for his belt.
This boosted his profile and so when Adityanath undertook his cabinet expansion in September last year during his first term in the run-up to the February-March 2022 Assembly polls, he named Khatik as a minister along with others, including a newcomer Jitin Prasada. In his first ministerial stint too, Khatik was allocated the MoS Jal Shakti portfolio.
Khatik was reported to have been sulking against the Adiynath dispensation for the past few months. His resentment against the government burst into the open a few weeks ago, when he went to Meerut’s Ganganagar police station and warned the policemen that he would hold a sit-in protest there if they did not register an FIR against the two constables, who were allegedly involved in beating up a local youth. Subsequently, the FIR was lodged against the accused cops. The BJP leadership also sent Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya to Meerut to pacify Khatik and reassure him that his voice would be heard, party sources said.
Months before he became an MoS for the first time, Khatik also faced allegations of abetment to suicide of a Meerut-based lawyer. Some lawyers had also reportedly staged a protest against him in February 2021 in this regard.
However, Khatik has been a popular leader in the Meerut belt, with the saffron party hoping to groom him as a key Dalit face in UP. In both the 2017 and 2022 polls, he defeated BSP candidate Yogesh Verma to clinch Hastinapur seat, inhabited predominantly by Gujjars and Muslims, on the BJP ticket.
Apart from his RSS background, Khatik is known to have risen from the BJP’s cadre ranks. Party sources say he was hoping for a “larger role” during the party-led government’s second tenure and that the lack of coordination between him and Jal Shakti cabinet minister Swatantra Dev Singh, who is also the state BJP chief, might have led to the current flashpoint.
BJP sources say that Khatik had made his resentment clear to the party leadership at both the central and state levels and was also assured a resolution, which however did not fructify.