Change of guard in BJP’s Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra units

Singhs appointment was necessitated after the incumbent state chief M N Pandey was inducted in the Union Cabinet. 

Published: 17th July 2019 01:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th July 2019 11:29 AM   |  A+A-

Former Samajwadi Party leader Neeraj Shekhar after joining BJP in the presence of the party’s working president J P Nadda in New Delhi on Tuesday | Arun Kumar

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  In a departure from the practice of making Lok Sabha MPs the chiefs of the party’s state units, the BJP on Tuesday handed over the responsibility of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to Swatantra Dev Singh and Chandrakant Patil, respectively. Both are ministers in the respective state governments. 

The move is seen to affect caste balance with an eye on Assembly elections in the two states.

Dev Singh, currently a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government in UP, is a Kurmi.

“Singh at the helm of party affairs will further help the BJP broaden its social base among the other backward castes. The Kurmi vote base has a formidable presence in a number of Assembly constituencies in UP, particularly the eastern parts,” said a senior BJP functionary.

Singhs appointment was necessitated after the incumbent state chief M N Pandey was inducted in the Union Cabinet. With Patil at the helm of affairs in Maharashtra, the BJP has sought to fine-tune the party strategy ahead of the Assembly elections. Incumbent State chief Raosaheb Danve, too, was inducted in the Union cabinet last month. 

The BJP also appointed party MLA Mangalprabhat Lodha as its Mumbai unit chief, replacing Ashish Shelar, who was recently inducted in the state cabinet. Patil is credited with knitting the RSS organisation in the sugar belt of western Maharashtra. 

Shekhar’s exit may cost SP in polls

Lucknow: The departure of Neeraj Shekhar from Samajwadi Party (SP) could severely dent the party, especially in eastern UP where he holds considerable clout not only among Thakurs but across the socio-political spectrum.

On the other hand, the BJP stands benefitted not only because of his support base but also through the ‘message politics’ by roping him in.

At a time when the SP is trying hard to recover from the Lok Sabha debacle and embarrassing failure of its alliance with the BSP, Shekhar’s move would weaken it further in eastern UP which could be reflected in the upcoming by-polls and also the 2022 Assembly battle.

On the other hand, the BJP has certainly got a shot in the arm by roping in the former SP leader who carries the legacy of his father and former prime minister Chandrashekhar in eastern Uttar Pradesh. 

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