Yogi expands cabinet ahead of UP polls; inducts Jitin with eye on Brahmins

This could be the final gamble of the BJP to settle caste equations and to adjust allies before the 2022 assembly polls

Jitin Prasada taking oath as minister under Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath looks on.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expanded his Cabinet on Sunday, with former Congress leader Jitin Prasada the most high-profile new face in his Cabinet.

The expansion comes months before assembly polls in the state.

Prasada was close to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and the party’s top Brahmin face in UP, before he defected to the BJP in June. His father Jitendra Prasada was a stalwart of the Congress.

Brahmins make up about 13 per cent of UP’s voters and are an influential political block, who have steadily gravitated towards the BJP over the years.

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Adityanath’s government is seen by some sections of the Brahmin community as being pro-Thakur – the chief minister’s caste.

In July last year, Prasada launched a ‘Brahmin Chetna Parishad’ but it had little impact.

Other new faces in the cabinet were Chatrapal Gangwar, the MLA from Bahedi in Bareilly, Dharamveer Prajapati, MLC from Agra, and Dr Sangeeta Balwant Bind, a first-time MLA from Ghazipur Sadar.

All three are from OBC communities.

“Whatever time is there we will work… the BJP wants to take all communities with it… there is no harm in furthering the interests of all communities,” Dr Bind said.

Also inducted were Hastinapur MLA Dinesh Khateek, Sanjiv Kumar, a first-time MLA from Obra in eastern UP’s Sonbhadra, and Paltu Ram, a first-time MLA from Balrampur Sadar who has been in politics for close to two decades and was earlier with the BSP.

Dinesh Khateek and Paltu Ram are from a Scheduled Caste. Sanjiv Kumar is from a Scheduled Tribe.

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