LUCKNOW: BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) president Anupriya Patel, who has been jockeying for a separate ministry to solve problems faced by other backward classes, is back in the Union council of ministers after a two-year gap.
An MP from Uttar Pradesh's Mirzapur, 40-year-old Patel belongs to the Kurmi community and had been a minister in the first government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Her inclusion in the Modi's team is significant ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections next year and the Lok Sabha polls in 2024 as the Other Backward Classes (OBC) have a sizeable number of voters in the key Purvanchal region.
"We have demanded the formation of a ministry for OBCs on the lines of the Ministry of Minorities to solve the problems of the backward classes," she had said at a meeting of party workers on the 72nd birth anniversary of Apna Dal founder Sonelal Patel earlier this month.
A champion of the cause of the backwards and deprived sections, she has been saying that though they are getting their share in the administration, still the gap of inequality is huge. "We have to struggle a lot to bridge it," she says, while making a demand for the setting up of a national memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Delhi.
Her party has been continuously raising its voice in Parliament for resolving the problems of farmers and proper implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations so that they could get a fair price for their produce.
The buzz that she could be accommodated in the Union ministry grew louder after she recently met the BJP brass in New Delhi after staying away from the corridors of power ever since the NDA embarked on its second term in 2019.
Anupriya was a minister of state at the Centre from 2016 to 2019. This is her second stint in the Union council of ministers.