Cabinet ministry reshuffle: Is Modi trying to bridge ties with UP?

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The Cabinet Reshuffle clearly had other intentions other than just expanding the ministry portfolios. With the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2017, the NDA government is cautious this time and does not want to make any mistakes.

Indeed, the composition of the extended ministry is diversified. More so because of the caste diversity of the Uttar Pradesh MPs that have been inducted.

Narendra Modi

BJP's Chandauli MP Mahendra Pandey (Brahmin), Shahjahanpur MP Krishna Raj (Dalit) and Apna Dal MP from Mirzapur Anupriya Patel (Kurmi-OBC) may be first time MPs, but they now epitomise Modi's humbleness in acknowledging the mandate that UP voters gave BJP in 2014Lok Sabha election when 71 BJP candidates and 2 of its ally Apna Dal won.

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Consider this, the union council of ministers until Monday had 12 ministers from UP. There were five cabinet ministers, 3 ministers of state (independent charge) and four ministers of state. When Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was inducted into the council of ministers in 2014, he was the Rajya Sabha member from UP. However, the party set him in Upper House in from Jharkhand in the recent polls.

Now, the Centre has more UP members than ever before.

Strategic decision

Krishna Raj has been inducted in the Cabinet to target Dalit votes of the Bahujan Samaj Party. The party is in crisis these days due to the defection of two senior leaders- RK Chaudhary (Dalit) and Swami Prasad Maurya (OBC).

Krishna Raj had been an MLA from the reserved seats of Mohammadi in 1996 and 2007. She is a post graduate business person and MP from the reserved constituency of Shahjahanpur. She had lost the assembly election in 2012 from Kasta.

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She had also lost Lok Sabha elections from Shahjahanpur in 2009.

On the other hand, Mirzapur MP Anupriya Patel is the daughter of Kurmi leader-late Sone Lal Patel. A candidate from the Apna Dal, a party founded by her father, she contested her first assembly election from Rohaniya in Varanasi in 2012. She changed the picture of the party when she brought it to the national spotlight when she got an alliance with the BJP on two seats of Mirzapur and Pratapgarh and won both the seats under Modi wave.

Anupriya is a graduate from Lady Sriram College and had vacated the Rohaniya seat after winning the Lok Sabha elections. Incidentally, Rohaniya falls in Modi's Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi where Amit Shah had addressed a Jan Swabhimaan Rally on July 2, on the birth anniversary of Sone Lal Patel.It is then that the BJP had announced that both the parties will stick together in the 2017 assembly polls too.

Anupriya's induction can be seen as an attempt to balance the OBC caste equation after the Samajwadi Party recently took back senior leader and ex-union minister Beni Prasad Verma (also a Kurmi) and sent him back to the Rajya Sabha.

Mahendra Nath Pandey, the BJP MP from Chandauli is close to both Shah and Modiand his induction is aimed at reviving support of Brahmins voters who started inclining toward BSP in 2007 and 2012 assembly polls. Pandey had been BJP MLA from Saidpur in 1991 and 1996 and he was minister in governments led by Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh. With an ABVP background, Pandey had been BJP's state general secretary in the past.

Needless to say, the NDA government had a clear intention in mind. Let's see if it works in favour of the party in the UP assembly elections 2017.

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