Of the 7 ministers, the party also accommodated its UP ally, Apna Dal, by making Anupriya Patel a minister.
Uttar Pradesh, with 403 MLA seats and 80 Lok Sabha seats, has been crucial for the BJP and its path to the Centre. The state is heading into assembly polls next year while the Lok Sabha polls will be held in 2024. So, when PM Narendra Modi inducted as many as seven ministers from the state, it came as no surprise. The saffron party, the Prime Minister in particular, cannot ignore the massive support it enjoys from the state. In order to keep its vote bank united, seven new ministers will now work to ensure NDA’s victory in the coming polls.
Of the 7 ministers, the party also accommodated its UP ally, Apna Dal, by making Anupriya Patel a minister. She was also a minister in Modi’s first cabinet. While making seven ministers, the BJP also kept the caste equation in mind and an attempt was made to please the OBC, especially the Kurmis and SC voters.
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The seven ministers are Anupriya Patel, Pankaj Chaudhary, BL Verma, Kaushal Kishore, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, SP Singh Baghel and Ajay Kumar.
While Anupriya Patel, BL Verma and Pankaj Chaudhary are leaders from the OBC community, Kaushal Kishore, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma and SP Singh Baghel represent Scheduled Castes communities. According to some BJP leaders, Other Backward Classes make up to 50 per cent of voters in the state.
Ajay Kumar belongs to the Brahmin community and has been appointed as a minister in an attempt to woo the Brahmin voters. Notably, the joining of Jitin Prasada is also going to help the BJP muster support from the community, which has been portrayed as being at loggerheads with Yogi Adityanath, who is a Rajput. The BJP strategically chose to make Ajay Kumar a minister over Jitin Prasada, as with Kumar’s elevation, the state’s Terai region gets a representation in the Modi cabinet.
The BJP also ensured that the ministers represent a regional balance in the new cabinet. While Anupriya Patel, an MP from Mirzapur and Pankaj Chaudhary, an MP from Maharajganj are from the eastern part of the state, Baghel from Agra and Rajya Sabha MP B L Verma (hails from Budaun) represent western Uttar Pradesh. Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma is an MP from Jalaun and comes from the Bundelkhand region.
The BJP did not make the mistake of undermining the Dalit votes and has chosen three Scheduled Caste leaders from three regions of the state– west UP, Awadh and Bundelkhand. Ajay Kumar is a Lok Sabha MP from the Khiri constituency of the Terai region while Kaushal Kishore is an MP from Mohanlalganj, a region adjacent to Lucknow.
With Baghel, the BJP has tried to balance the regional issue that may have arisen with the exit of Santosh Gangwar. On the other hand, Kaushal represents the Pasi community, which is said to be the second-largest SC community in the state. Kaushal’s induction is also an attempt to make peace with him and his community per se. The Mohanlalganj has been made MoS (Housing and Urban Affairs). He was among the UP leaders who questioned the Yogi government’s handling of the second wave of Covid-19.
The NDA has been facing the ire of its allies for a long time. With the exit of Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP was under pressure to keep its flock together. Then in Uttar Pradesh, BJP’s ally Nishad Party has been trying to build pressure on the Yogi government in an attempt to get Dy CM post in the next government if the saffron party returns to power. While Nishad Party’s chief Sanjay Nishad was reportedly upset that his son Pravin has not been included in the Modi cabinet, he has now said that his party will remain with the BJP and PM Modi. With the induction of Apna Dal (Sonelal), the Modi government has indicated that it’s willing to accommodate its allies.