Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choices on the new faces in his cabinet reflects his aim of expanding the BJP’s footprints across the country’s political spectrum, even as the Sunday’s cabinet revamp is being seen as an exercise in consolidating the saffron party’s base in regions where it is has tasted fresh success.
The Hindi heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — that together account for 120 parliamentary seats — have received a big share of the cabinet allocations.
Uttar Pradesh now has four new representations in the council of ministers, bringing its share to 13. Adjoining Bihar has three new ministers, which add up to a total of eight representations from the state.
Ahead of next year’s assembly elections scheduled in Bihar and the 2017 polls in Uttar Pradesh, the Prime Minister’s decision providing for an adequate representation from these states does make sound political sense.
Besides Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who earned the reputation of being a giant killer after having defeated former chief minister Rabri Devi from the Saran Lok Sabha seat in the parliamentary elections, the new faces from Bihar include “Bhumihar” leader Giriraj Singh and Ram Kripal Yadav, who did a U-turn before the Lok Sabha elections to join the BJP, shedding the sobriquet of being Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad’s “Hanuman”.
The “Bhumihars” — a dominant caste — had strongly backed JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar in the last assembly elections in Bihar.
Singer-turned-politician Babul Supriyo’s induction is being seen as a strategy to expand upon the BJP’s recent political gains in West Bengal, where elections are scheduled in 2016.
Similarly, the induction of senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha’s son, Jayant Sinha, is seen as being a big shot in the arm for the BJP in poll bound Jharkhand, while the induction of Bandaru Dattatreya will help the BJP expand its base in Telangana.
The BJP is working at ensuring major gains for the party in the next assembly elections in the newly created state in 2019.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of YS Chowdary, a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP from Rajya Sabha as MoS would strengthen TDP’s presence at the centre. Ashok Gajapati Raju, from the TDP, is the civil aviation minister.
Playing a master stroke of picking Suresh Prabhu to check-mate the Shiv Sena, the Prime Minister has rewarded Maharashtra — which returned the BJP with big numbers in the recent assembly elections — by including Hansraj Gangaram Ahir — the party’s protagonist in exposing the coal scam.
Rajasthan — which returned all 25 parliamentary seats to the BJP in this year’s Lok Sabha elections — has two new representations in the Union cabinet.
State chief minister Vasundhara Raje was reportedly pitching for the inclusion of her son Dushyant Singh, but the Prime Minister has picked Sanwar Lal Jat, who is not considered among Raje’s favourites. Olympian, Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is the other new face from Rajasthan in the union council of ministers.
Gujarat has been rewarded by two inclusions: Haribhai Chaudhary and Mohanbhai Kundriya, who represent North and South Gujarat respectively.