While drawing the roadmap for 2024 parliamentary polls, Bhartiya Janta Party high command, in consultation with Yogi Aditya Nath, chief minister UP, finalised the list of ministers who represent different castes, various regions of this most populous state, retried bureaucrats, to help the government in good governance which is aimed at percolation of strong message about single motto and dictum of delivery - to come upto the expectations of the people.
Riding on the crest of massive victory of winning 255 out of 403 seats, BJP has given clear signal about eminence given to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) by inducting 20 ministers out of total number of 52 ministers which is on the analogy of Prime Minister Narender Modi’s political decision to give 37 percent berths to OBCs in union cabinet after unprecedented victory in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Modi’s preference for OBCs
Analysts say that high command gave prominence to OBCs in Yogi cabinet which was primarily guided by preference given by Modi who had surprised many in 2019 when he inducted 27 OBC ministers and five with cabinet rank.
OBC vote bank is huge and spread over in the country which is evident from the fact that as per national sample survey organisation (NSSO), OBCs account for 40.94 percent of total population of India, though Mandal commission had quoted this figure as 55 percent in 1980.
A cursory look at composition of Yogi’s council of ministers exhibits that eight leaders from the OBC community have been given Cabinet rank and, Jat leaders including Lakshmi Narayan Chowdhury and Bhupendra Singh Chowdhury are Cabinet ministers.
Anil Rajbhar is from the Rajbhar community and Sanjay Nishad belongs to the Nishad community, whereas Dharampal Singh hails from the Lodh community. Six ministers who have been given independent charges belong to Other Backward Classes, which include the names of Sandip Singh from the Lodh community, Narendra Kashyap from the Nishad community, Girish Chandra Yadav from the Yadav community, Sanjay Gangwar from the Kurmi community, Dharambir Prajapati from the Prajapati caste and Ravindra Jaiswal from the Kalwar caste. Six OBC leaders got an opportunity as junior ministers who will have to perform.
The Muslim, the Sikh and the Punjabi
BJP has tried to neutralise anti minorities image, hence Danish Azad Ansari has replaced Mohsin Raza to secure a ministerial post.
Baldev Singh Aulakh, representing Sikhs has been made a junior minister again, while Suresh Khanna, a nine-time MLA from Shahjahanpur and representing the Punjabi community has been sworn in as a cabinet minister.
Creating its fresh vote bank
Political observers opine that the BJP has tried to strike a balance in giving representation to various caste groups but also attempted to send a wider political message to the OBC communities which are so crucial to win parliamentary polls.
As per future strategy, BJP has pushed the OBC - Dalit communities and Jatav votes in one fold which was visible during ticket distribution in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, a precursor to future poll management in 2024.
The induction of Muslim MLA as minister also helps the party to target the community. The important ministerial positions given to Jat leaders clearly shows that BJP would like to check the influence of farmer leaders, Rakesh Tikait etc., and the Rashtriya Lok Dal amongst the jats.
Good governance motto
Experts say that the induction of the former IAS officer A.K.Sharma, and Asim Arun, Ex IPS officer in the cabinet has been done with a purpose. It also shows that the underlying idea is to give emphasis on good governance which has been done by Modi in his own government at the centre after picking up bureaucrats like S. Jaishanker, Hardeep Singh Puri (former diplomat), Ashwini Vaishnaw and R.K. Singh.
It is a known fact that A.K.Sharma has been close to prime minster, who earlier wanted his induction as deputy chief minister, but Yogi had put his foot down and refused to accommodate him. But now Modi had last laugh and Sharma is in the cabinet with a higher status and his experience may prove beneficial to Yogi’s government.
On the same analogy, Asim Arun will be a Jatav face who was a police commissioner of Kanpur and his induction may also contribute in the improvement of the administrative set up of the government.
It was involvement of Amit Shah and Nadda besides other senior leaders in Uttar Pradesh polls management which had made the difference in the finalisation of the strategy and the outcome.
Amit Shah as president of the party had entrusted the responsibility of Lok Sabha polls in 2019 to Nadda who successfully delivered.
Four women faces inducted
There is no denying the fact that women voters were a key factor behind the BJP’s victory in the state hence high command has inducted four women ministers in the cabinet including Baby Rani Maurya, Vijay Laxmi Gautam, Pratibha Shukla and Rajni Tiwari.
Modi gave chance to eleven women ministers in his government and central welfare schemes had impacted the psyche of women who voted for the party candidates in Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
Experts say that Modi’s BJP does not waste time to pounce upon next target which was done by prime minister himself when he embarked upon two day visit to Gujarat to celebrate the victory in home state which has to be won at all costs to pave the way for retention of power in Delhi.
Sources say that Nadda’s team has been working on the Gujarat project since past two years though he will have to do something different to save his home state which also goes to polls in November this year.
BJP’s tremendous performance in five assembly polls might awaken the demoralised Congress to set its house in order and stand up to face polls in Gujarat and Himachal to stay relevant in 2024 parliamentary elections.
Writer is a national columnist and political analyst based in Shimla, India.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.