Modi cabinet rejig: MoS Home Ajay Mishra Teni faces axe

Teni has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons ever since his son Ashish Mishra led a carcade that ran over four protesting farmers and trampled them to death in Lakhimpur Kheri.
FILE - Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’. (Photo | PTI)
FILE - Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’. (Photo | PTI)

LUCKNOW: At least two of the 15 faces from UP in the Narendra Modi cabinet may be dropped in the much anticipated ministerial reshuffle, sources in the state capital said. The two ministers likely to be dropped in the reshuffle include Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ and Chandauli MP and heavy industry minister Mahendra Nath Pandey.

Teni has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons since October 2021 when his son Ashish Mishra led a carcade, comprising an SUV that ran four protesting farmers over, trampling them to death in Lakhimpur Kheri.

The farmers were protesting against the three farm laws which were later repealed. Currently, Teni’s son, accused of the murder of the four farmers, is out on bail but restricted from entering UP by the Supreme Court. Sources said Teni and Mahendra Nath Pandey, both prominent Brahmin faces of the BJP, may be replaced by two caste representatives, including former UP BJP chief Laxmi Kant Bajpai, who is a Rajya Sabha member, and Harish Dwivedi, party MP from Basti in eastern UP.

Bajpai is MLA from Meerut multiple times. However, he had to taste a crushing defeat in the saffron surge of 2017. Bajpai is counted among the frontline leaders of the state BJP with a strong RSS background. He was sent to Rajya Sabha by the party in May 2022.

No LS ticket for Varun Gandhi?

Meanwhile, observers believe the party may deny the ticket to its Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections given that Varun has emerged as one of the strongest detractors of his party’s government over a number of issues, including farmer distress, unemployment, price rise, rural stress, among others.

Sources wonder if Varun will contest the Lok Sabha election from BJP or if he is contemplating a political shift in the run-up to the 2024 polls. However, the Pilibhit MP has never hinted about a switch, leading to speculation about his future moves. Varun had taken the plunge into electoral politics in 2009 by winning the Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat with a huge margin. Then Pilibhit was his mother Maneka Gandhi’s constituency. Now she is an MP from Sultanpur in central UP.

Sources said the party may think twice before deciding on the ticket to Varun from Pilibhit in 2024. “In his place, the party may prefer Sanjay Singh Gangwar, an OBC and two-time MLA from the Pilibhit City Assembly segment. It will help the party to send across a positive message to the OBCs who have been backing the BJP overwhelmingly since 2014,” says a senior BJP leader.

Observers say the BJP needs to nurture another OBC leader in Terai and Bareilly regions after Santosh Gangwar, who is now 74. He has been a leader of stature in the Bareilly region and has represented the seat in Lok Sabha eight times from 1989 to 2019, except in 2009 when he lost the election by a narrow margin to Congress Praveen Singh Aron.

“The party is looking for another OBC leader who can match the charisma and popularity of Santosh Gangwar in Bareilly and adjoining seats,” says a senior BJP leader.

Meanwhile, Varun Gandhi has been quite vocal in expressing his dissent over issues in the recent past but the party has been following guarded silence over his diatribes. Though the party did not initiate any disciplinary action against the Gandhi scion, it sidelined him in the organisation. He along with his mother Maneka Gandhi was dropped from the party’s national executive committee.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express