The first expansion of the Uttar Pradesh government held on Wednesday seems to have been undertaken after much thought, balancing caste as well as regional equations in the most populated state of the country.
Of the 23 ministers who were sworn in, there were six Brahmins, four Thakurs or Kshatriyas, three Vaishya or Bania and 10 from Dalit or Backward Classes. To give representation to a Vaishya or Bania in place of Finance Minister Rajesh Agarwal who resigned on Tuesday (August 20), three ministers from his community have been inducted.
Following the sacking of tall leader from Rajbhar community, Om Prakash Rajbhar of BJP ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, Anil Rajbhar from the same community has been promoted as cabinet minister.
MLC Ashok Kataria, a prominent Gurjar community leader from Western Uttar Pradesh, has been made Minister with Independent Charge. There was no leader from the community in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet so far.
The cabinet rejig laid a special focus on Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Neelkanth Tiwari and Raveendra Jaiswal, both MLAs from Varanasi area were inducted into the ministry to give due representation to the constituency.
Apna Dal, big guns snubbed
When Modi 2.0 government was formed at the Centre, all allies were given the option of giving one name to be made minister. Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United refused to take part in the ministry. The Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena gave one name each but very conspicuously, Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal (S), who was a minister in the previous government, was not invited.
The BJP leadership was perhaps annoyed by Patel’s tantrums in not attending government functions on allegations of being humiliated by big brother BJP.
It was widely expected that keeping in mind the importance of Kurmi voter base, her husband Ashish Patel, who is an MLC in the state, would be made a minister in UP this time. But that did not happen. Instead, two other Kurmi leaders, Ram Shankar Singh Patel and Neelima Katiyar have been inducted to balance the scale.
Some prominent names doing the rounds for inclusion in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet were left a disappointed lot. These include Noida MLA Pankaj Singh, son of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was being tipped off as a key contender to become minister this time. Old hands, Vidya Sagar Sonkar and Vijay Bahadur Pathak, both MLCs, were also among the probables list.
(Vivek Avasthi is Senior Editor-Politics with Business Television India – BTVI)