Fresh faces to balance caste equations in Uttar Pradesh
New faces from Uttar Pradesh in the Modi ministry– essentially reflect BJP’s attempt to balance caste equations after the resignations of two UP Brahmins and a Jat from Modi government.Updated: Sep 04, 2017 14:15 IST
New faces from Uttar Pradesh in the Modi ministry – Rajya Sabha MP Shiv Pratap Shukla, 65, from Gorakhpur in east UP and former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, the 62-year old Baghpat MP – essentially reflect BJP’s attempt to balance caste equations after the resignations of two UP Brahmins and a Jat from Modi government.
Union MSME minister and Deoria MP Kalraj Mishra, 76, resigned due to advancing age while union minister of state for HRD and Chandauli MP Mahendra Pandey, 59, resigned after being made UP BJP chief. In west UP, the party replaced Muzaffarnagar’s Jat MP and union minister of state for agriculture Sanjiv Balyan with another Jat Satyapal Singh.
More than western UP, it was in eastern UP, heavily divided on caste and ego wars between two dominant upper castes – Brahmins and Thakurs – where the party leadership surprised everyone by settling for Shukla.
That’s because Shukla, a four-time former lawmaker and minister in Kalyan Singh government who was made the Rajya Sabha MP last year, comes from Gorakhpur – the constituency and home to chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Though it is said they had patched up of late, Shukla and Adityanath weren’t known to share the best of relations, their rivalry dating back to 2002.
‘That’s when Adityanath got present Gorakhpur city lawmaker and doctor Radha Mohan Das Agarwal to contest and win against BJP candidate Shukla on a Hindu Mahasabha ticket,” recalls Vinay Tiwari, BSP lawmaker from Chillupar assembly constituency in Gorakhpur.
Interestingly, when contacted Agarwal refused to read much into Shukla’s elevation saying in politics things change. “It’s 2017 now and it’s unfair to keep referring to 2002,” Agarwal said. The background nevertheless led to fierce speculations about the reasons for BJP leadership favouring Shukla. “It’s a reward for loyalty as despite being virtually mauled politically Shukla remained loyal to the party,” a BJP leader said.
“There are sizeable Brahmins in and around Gorakhpur and the elevation of a loyal Brahmin leader is good symbolism,” a party source said adding much thought had gone into the expansion. Adityanath, meanwhile, has congratulated all those who became ministers.