UP packs a punch in Modi cabinet, BJP now eyes state

Lucknow: With India’s new prime minister, home minister and seven other union ministers coming from Uttar Pradesh, the state now occupies the most coveted position in the new government.

Having won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, Uttar Pradesh was bound to figure in a big way in Modi’s scheme of things. But even the most optimistic BJP supporters didn’t expect such a bonanza.

Rajnath Singh was an obvious choice for a senior slot in the cabinet and so was Modi’s ‘choti behen’ (younger sister) Smriti Irani. BJP strategists say giving plum posts also to Kalraj Mishra, Sanjeev Baliyan, V.K. Singh, Maneka Gandhi and Manoj Sinha are a sign of things to come.

This, party leaders told IANS, was part of a larger plan to take over the reins in Uttar Pradesh in assembly elections due in 2017.

BJP leader and now Water Resource Minister Uma Bharti had more than twice said that the Samajwadi Party (SP) government in Uttar Pradesh would go if her party formed the central government.

BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpayi has also hinted that more than 60 disgruntled SP legislators were in touch with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Uttar Pradesh’s share in the ministerial pie was deliberated upon the longest, party sources said. The BJP general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah, was keen that the state’s geography and caste matrix were taken care of.

Not surprisingly, while areas like Bundelkhand, western Uttar Pradesh, Poorvanchal, Ruhelkhand and central Uttar Pradesh have found space in the form of Uma Bharti (Jhansi), V.K. Singh (Ghaziabad), Baliyan (Muzaffarnagar), Sinha (Ghazipur), Maneka Gandhi (Pilibhit), Gangwar (Bareilly) and Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), the party has also made efforts to ensure that all castes get represented in the union ministry.

Kalraj Mishra is a Brahmin, Uma Bharti and Gangwar are from the OBC, Sinha is a Bhumihaar, Baliyan a Jat and Rajnath Singh is a Thakur.

The BJP has also begun an exercise to ensure that it wins the maximum of the 12 assembly seats where by-elections will be held in the next few months.

“We will not rest until the BJP is firmly in the corridors of power in Lucknow,” said state president Bajpayi.

The BJP has planned protests against power cuts and the soaring crime graph in the sprawling state, India’s most populous.

Adding to the woes of the Samajwadi Party is the appointment of Nripendra Mishra, a 1967 batch retired IAS officer, as principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Mishra’s antipathy to the Samajwadi Party is an open secret.

Realizing that the hostilities between the BJP and Samajwadi Party would not melt away, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav joined the Modi swearing in Monday.

While the BJP won 71 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, its ally Apna Dal took two. The Samajwadi Party claimed just five seats. The Congress bagged the remaining two.

Overnight orders have been issued to the UP Power Corp Ltd to ensure 24×7 power supply to Varanasi – Modi’s constituency.

Now it remains to be seen how the Modi-led dispensation deals with the  state government and the Samajwadi Party, its biggest political adversary in Uttar Pradesh.

Free Press Journal