up cabinet expansion: UP cabinet expansion: Caste calculations take shape ahead of polls

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(This story originally appeared in on Sep 26, 2021)

With an attempt to set the caste balance right and give more representation to most backwards and schedule castes before the state polls next year, chief minister Yogi Adityanath inducted seven new ministers into his cabinet on Sunday.

Jitin Prasada, a Brahmin — whose induction was considered a foregone conclusion ever since he switched over from Congress in June this year — is the lone upper caste in the list. Out of six others, three are from OBCs, two scheduled castes and one scheduled tribe.

The newly inducted ministers were sworn in at the Raj Bhawan at 5.30am by Governor Anandiben Patel, in the presence of the CM and other senior ministers.

While Prasada is the only cabinet minister, the other six have been given the rank of minister of state (MoS). While most of the new ministers belong to the castes that were either not or less represented in the Yogi ministry, the ever-demanding Brahmins got yet another representation in Prasada.

Out of the two scheduled caste ministers, one is Jatav — Paltu Ram from Balrampur, and the other a Sonker — Dinesh Khatik, an MLA from Hastinapur in West UP area. The region has a sizeable presence of dalit community.

The three newly inducted OBC ministers are Dharmveer Prajapati, Chhatrapal Gangawar and Sangeeta Balwant Bind.

An MLA from Baheri constituency, the elevation of Gangwar, a Kurmi, is being seen as a replacement of Santosh Singh Gangwar, an MP from Bareilly, who was dropped from Modi cabinet recently.

Interestingly, two Kurmi leaders — Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel and BJP’s Pankaj Chaudhary — were earlier made ministers in the Modi cabinet at Centre. Kurmis make for a sizable chunk among OBCs.

The induction of Bind, a first-time MLA from Ghazipur district is also being seen as BJP’s bid to create its own Nishad leadership at a time when the BJP has forged an alliance with NISHAD party led by Dr Sanjay Nishad.

Nishads have a huge presence, mostly in eastern UP areas lying on the banks of rivers. Ghazipur is situated on the banks of the Ganga.

In its final cabinet expansion, BJP has given representation to a member of Scheduled Tribe as well — Sanjeev Kumar Gond, an MLA from Sonbhadra.

With only a few months before UP polls, the BJP think tank has tried to give representation to most backwards among the OBCs in a bid to wrap up vote share as less as even 2%, a formula first time applied by former CM late Kalyan Singh and then successfully implemented by Union home minister Amit Shah in 2014, when he was the state in charge.

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