Modi tries to balance caste equation in UP

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The rejig exercise done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept the main focus on balancing caste and regional equations. With the induction of three new ministers from UP the tally went to 15 from this state. Newly inducted two – Anupriya Patel and Mahendra Pandey are from eastern UP near Varanasi from where Modi elected to Lok Sabha, Krishna Raj is an MP from Shahjahanpur.

Krishna Raj, MoS women and child development, Mahendra Pandey, MoS home Minister. Modi has given highest-ever representation to UP.

Anupriya Patel, a Kurmi leader, is an Apna Dal MP from Mirzapur while Pandey represents neighbouring Chandauli. Krishna Raj is a Dalit. While 59-yearold Pandey has been a minister once -in Kalyan Singh government in 2007, 35-year-old ambitious Anupriya has become minister for the first time. Her debut as an MLA was from Rohaniya in 2012. The selection of Anupriya, coming after the choice of Maurya to head the BJP ‘s state unit, is part of its effort to reach out to non-Yadav OBCs. Lodhis are already well represented in BJP Uma Bharati in the Cabinet, Kalyan Singh in Jaipur Raj Bhawan and his son in Lok Sabha. With Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar making frequent visits to eastern UP to woo Kurmi voters and Beni Prasad Verma, another strong Kurmi leader, back in Samajwadi Party , the BJP has included her in the cabinet to bring the influential caste to its fold as her father Sone Lal Patel was the main architect to unite his community.

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Similarly, the appointment of Mahendra Pandey follows the Rajya Sabha seat for another Brahmin leader RP Shukla. Kalraj Mishra is already there in the cabinet. In order to check further desertion of Brahmins from the party to Bahujan Samaj Party, the BJP is promoting its Brahmin leaders, the party has realised that it can’t take their support for granted. A politician since student days, Pandey was active at BHU and has been the vice-president of its students’ union. He became an MLA for the first time on BJP ticket from Saidpur in 1991 and also contested Lok Sabha election in 2009, but lost.

Krishna Raj’s inclusion on the hand is to keep Dalits happy as one scheduled caste minister RS Katheria was dropped. Shahjahanpur MP Krishna Raj is known for her clean image and championing the cause of Dalits and women. Wife of a banker, this 49-year-old politician has twice (in 1996 and 2007) been an MLA from Mohammdi constituency in Kheri district. Political observers say that her inclusion before 2017 state elections is keeping in mind her sub-caste, Pasi, which are in much larger number as compared to Katheria’s Dhanuks.

An SRCC graduate, Anupriya, has inherited the legacy of her father prominent Kurmi leader and Apna Dal founder Sonelal Patel. Interestingly, her graduation from Sri Ram College, New Delhi, has also found mention in a handbill distributed before she took the oath. She jumped into active politics after the sad demise of her father in a road accident and became an Apna Dal MLA from Rohaniya in Varanasi in 2012 assembly elections. Riding on the support of a sizeable Kurmi votes in Varanasi and adjoining districts, she became a part of the NDA in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with her party contributing two seats in the alliance from UP. She herself won from Mirzapur. However, she couldn’t enjoy her good run in politics as her mother and party president Krishna Patel sided with her sister in the battle of legacy. Just after her induction in the cabinet, her mother and sister broke all ties with her and also snapped ties with the BJP.

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