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UP share in Union Council of Ministers drops to 9, BJP tries to strike caste balance

With the BJP suffering a setback in Uttar Pradesh in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections, the new Union Council of Ministers saw the state’s representation drop from 14 in the outgoing government to nine.

While seven are from the BJP in the new 71-member Council of Ministers, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, two are from its alliance partners – Jayant Chaudhary of the RLD, and Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal (S).

However, considering the shift of the OBC and Dalit votes to the SP-Congress alliance of the Opposition INDIA bloc in the elections, and the resentment faced by the party from a section of Thakur leaders, the BJP has tried to strike a caste balance in the ministerial allocation.

Out of the nine ministers, three are OBC leaders — Lodhi leader BL Verma from Badaun, Kurmi leaders Pankaj Chaudhary (Maharajganj) and Anupriya Patel (Mirzapur). Two are Dalit leaders — SP Singh Baghel (Agra), and Kamlesh Paswan (Bansgaon). Jitin Prasada, a minister in the UP government, who won from Pilibhit, is the sole Brahmin face from UP. There are two Thakur leaders – veteran party leader Rajnath Singh (Lucknow) and a surprise debut by Kirti Vardhan Singh alias Raja Bhaiya from Gonda. Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary is a Jat leader.

The induction of Raja Bhaiya is seen as an attempt by the BJP to strike a balance of power in Gonda vis-a-vis Brij Bhushan Saran Singh’s influence in the region. Brij Bhushan, who is facing sexual harassment charges from women wrestlers, did not contest this time. Instead, his son, Karan Bhushan Singh, contested from Gonda and won.

In terms of Cabinet posts, Rajnath Singh is the only Cabinet minister from UP this time.

In the outgoing government, there were three Cabinet-rank ministers from

Read more on indianexpress.com