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BJP looks for gains as Tamta joins Team Modi

india Updated: Jul 06, 2016 13:03 IST
Deep Joshi
Cabinet Reshuffle

BJP MP Ajay Tamta takes oath during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet re-shuffle, at the Rashtrpati Bhawan on Tuesday.(Sonu Mehta/ Hindustan Times)

The BJP tried to achieve many things in a single action by inducting its Dalit face in Uttarakhand into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers, analysts said on Tuesday, dissecting the importance of young parliamentarian Ajay Tamta.

The move to make Tamta the Union minister of state for textiles may not only help the BJP win the youth and Dalits, but also stop the party’s sliding popularity ahead of the 2017 assembly polls. Besides, the 44-year-old leader from Kumaon will help correct the regional imbalance within the BJP, which is skewed in favour of Garhwal.

Read: As it happened: New portfolios after Modi’s cabinet reshuffle

“All these factors will help salvage the BJP’s image ahead of the assembly polls,” said professor YP Sundriyal of HNB Garhwal University. “Its popularity suffered a downslide as it is seen as a party that toppled the elected Congress government, plunging the state into political crisis for more than two months.”

The BJP-led Centre has been accused of foisting President’s rule in the hill state after Congress chief minister Harish Rawat faced a revolt and nine of his lawmakers sided with the Opposition in March. Rawat’s government was restored last month after he won a Supreme Court-monitored trust vote.

Political observers appeared unsure whether the Almora MP’s inclusion will translate into votes for the BJP.

“The move will pay the party electoral dividends provided it is able to exploit the Tamta factor to its advantage in the run-up to elections,” said MM Semwal, a professor of political science at HNB Garhwal University.

Read: Complete list of portfolios of Modi’s ministers

“It will certainly help the party dilute the ruling Congress’s recent move to get its Dalit face elected to the Rajya Sabha,” he said referring to the former parliamentarian for Almora, Pradeep Tamta, a known loyalist of chief minister Rawat.

State BJP vice-president Jyoti Prasad Gairola agreed.

“Getting Tamta elevated to the Union ministry will send across a positive message that our party cares for Dalits that form 17% of the state’s total population,” he said. “While their (Congress) Rajya Sabha member’s influence will remain confined to his area (Almora), Tamta being a Union minister will work for the whole state.”

Analysts dubbed PM Modi’s move to ignore three former chief ministers and sitting parliamentarians —BC Khanduri, BS Koshiyari and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank — as a political masterstroke to quell infighting within the party.

Read: With cabinet expansion, Modi performs a balancing act in poll-bound UP