Anupriya Patel, a first time MP, is an eloquent pro-Modi voice within and outside the Lok Sabha whose OBC roots have positioned her as an important BJP ally in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
The 35-year-old Lok Sabha member from Mirzapur in UP won on the ticket of Apna Dal, a party founded by her father and Kurmi leader Sonelal Patel which later split, with the major faction siding with her mother, who expelled her from the party.
The support of BJP, Patel’s associates say, can help her claim the legacy of her father who built Apna Dal’s base among OBCs, primarily his fellow castemen Kurmis.
Her inclusion in the Union Council of Ministers is apparently aimed at consolidating backward votes in poll bound UP, especially eastern parts of the state where another tall Kurmi leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been trying to make a foray ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls.
A Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, pass out, she was elected an MLA in 2012 and then entered the Lok Sabha two years later. Anupriya also has Master’s degrees in Psychology and Business Administration.
BJP believes that a ministerial berth will give her the stature and gravitas required to work on Kurmi voters, who play an important role in deciding the fate of candidates in some parts of the Hindi heartland state.
Her speeches in the Lower House on various issues have often drawn lavish praise from the treasury benches.
Apna Dal has two members in the Lok Sabha, the other being Haribansh Singh, who owes his allegiance to the faction under control of Anupriya’s moter Krishna.
Incidentally, Krishna Patel had warned BJP of breaking ties in case Anupriya was included in the council of ministers. Sonelal Patel’s legacy is being claimed by her MP daughter and wife after his death in a road accident.
Anupriya was earlier an MLA from Rohaniya constituency in Varanasi.
BJP’s plans to project Anupriya as a prominent backward face had become clear with its national President Amit Shah attending the 67th birth anniversary of Sonelal Patel which was observed recently as ‘jan swabhiman rally” in Varanasi.