Uttar Pradesh assumes importance in the Cabinet formation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to several reasons. Not only the prime minister himself represents the Varanasi constituency, but the state also has the largest representation in the lower house — 80 seats. Further, Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh is due in 2022, the reason why the state’s importance cannot be undermined.
In 2014, Modi’s cabinet featured several MPs from the northern state — Home Minister Raj Nath Singh, Kalraj Mishra, Uma Bharti, Maneka Gandhi, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Gen. V. K. Singh, Manoj Sinha, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Krishna Raj (denied ticket this time), Anupriya Patel (Apna Dal – Sonelal) and Shiv Pratap Shukla. Mahendra Nath Pandey and Ajeet Baliyan had been made ministers but were dropped during cabinet reshuffles later.
Besides, two others from Uttar Pradesh were Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani and Minorities Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a Rajya Sabha MP nominated from Jharkhand.
Kalraj Mishra had left the ministerial post when he turned 75. Firebrand BJP leader and Hindu mascot Uma Bharti did not contest this time around as she said she was retiring from electoral politics.
Tall BJP leader, incumbent home minister and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Rajnath Singh was re-inducted in the Modi cabinet this time.
Also, Smriti Irani, the giant slayer who trounced Congress president Rahul Gandhi from his family bastion Amethi, was rewarded with a ministerial berth in the Modi Cabinet. Till now, she was a member of the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who did not contest the elections this time too, has been made Cabinet minister as he is one of the few minority faces in the Modi government. He is the incumbent Cabinet minister for minority affairs.
The list also includes second-time Member of Parliament General (Retired) V.K. Singh from Ghaziabad, the incumbent Minister of State, and Santosh Kumar Gangwar, the incumbent Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Labour and Employment. Gangwar has won from the Barielly Lok Sabha seat eight times.
Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, the MP from Hamirpur who was the incumbent Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, has been given another chance to perform as an MoS.
A second chance
Mahendra Nath Pandey, the Uttar Pradesh BJP president who won for a second time from Chanduali, was Minister of State for Human Resource Development from 2014 to 2017 and was then dropped. However this time, he has been brought back as a cabinet minister.
Sanjeev Baliyan, the giant slayer who defeated Jat leader Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Ajit Singh from Muzaffarnagar, was inducted again as an MoS this time after being dropped from the cabinet in 2017.
Manoj Sinha, the incumbent Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Communications, who lost from Gazipur Lok Sabha seat this time, did not find his name in the list of ministers of the Modi Cabinet.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma, the second-time Member of Parliament from Gautam Budh Nagar, has been dropped this time. Same is the case with former Mumbai Police Commissioner Dr. Satyapal Malik, the MP from Baghpat, who failed to find a place in Modi Cabinet.
Anupriya Patel, the Apna Dal (S) ally of the BJP, who was also a Minister of State in the centre, has been ignored, though other allies of the BJP were offered one ministerial berth each.
Shiv Pratap Shukla, a member from the Upper House and the Minister of State for Finance, did not find place in the Modi Cabinet.
Hope remains for some
Former Union minister Maneka Gandhi is tipped to be the pro tem Speaker of the Lok Sabha to administer oath to the newly-elected members of the House. She could also be appointed Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha as she is the senior-most Member of Parliament.
The total strength of the Lok Sabha is 543. Elections were held for 542 seats only as election to the Vellore seat in Tamil Nadu was cancelled. Narendra Modi can take the strength of his cabinet to 15 percent of the total house of 543, which amounts to 81. So far, 58 ministers have been administered oath at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday.
With 28 ministerial berths still left in the kitty of Modi, the coming days will see hectic lobbying from MPs and former ministers within the BJP and RSS camps!
(Vivek Avasthi is Senior Editor Politics with Business Television India BTVI)