Modi Cabinet 3.0: BJP tries to strike caste balance, inducts nine faces from Uttar Pradesh

From Uttar Pradesh, the new Cabinet includes three upper caste members, four OBC members, and two Dalit members, in addition to Prime Minister Modi and Hardeep Puri.
NDA leaders Jitin Prasada and Anupriya Patel during an interaction with Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi over tea, in New Delhi, Sunday, June 9, 2024.
NDA leaders Jitin Prasada and Anupriya Patel during an interaction with Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi over tea, in New Delhi, Sunday, June 9, 2024.Photo | PTI

After a rude shock in the recent Lok Sabha election, the BJP, which lost nearly half of its seats compared to its tally of 62 in 2019 in Uttar Pradesh, has inducted nine ministers from the state into Modi 3.0, alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh.

Others sworn in as ministers from Uttar Pradesh include RLD chief Jayant Chaudhury, BJP's Pilibhit MP Jitin Prasada, Apna Dal (S) chief and Mirzapur MP Anupriya Patel, Gonda MP Kirti Vardhan Singh, Maharajganj MP Pankaj Chaudhury, Bansgaon MP Kamlesh Paswan, Agra MP SPS Baghel, and two Rajya Sabha members, Hardeep Puri and BL Verma.

Notably, the ruling NDA's poor performance led to the BJP falling short of a majority on its own, unlike in the previous two terms.

The BJP's loss of 28 seats compared to its 2019 tally reduced its total to 33 in Uttar Pradesh. However, the state still holds a significant share in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet, as he took the oath of office for a third consecutive term on Sunday.

In the previous term, a dozen ministers from Uttar Pradesh were included in the Modi Cabinet. The similar number of inductions this time indicates the BJP's efforts to address the issues that contributed to its defeat in UP.

Political observers note that reducing the number of ministers from Uttar Pradesh might impact caste equations in the state, which saw a significant shift of OBC and SC votes away from the BJP to the opposition in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

From Uttar Pradesh, the new Cabinet includes three upper caste members, four OBC members, and two Dalit members, in addition to Prime Minister Modi and Hardeep Puri.

Third-time Lucknow MP and former Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has been retained in the Cabinet, bringing much-needed experience and placating the Thakur community, whose dissatisfaction is believed to have significantly impacted the election results for the ruling party.

Additionally, Gonda MP Kirti Vardhan Singh, a Thakur, has been inducted into the Modi Cabinet. Singh is a two-term MP from the Samajwadi Party and a three-term MP from the BJP since 2014.

Apna Dal (S) leader and Kurmi representative Anupriya Patel has also been included in Modi 3.0, along with RLD chief and prominent Jat leader Jayant Chaudhary. The RLD chief joined forces with the BJP, contesting and winning seats in Baghpat and Bijnore.

Jayant Chaudhary’s induction is significant given the upcoming state polls in Haryana, where Jats did not support the BJP in this election.

From the BJP's list in UP, Congress turncoat Jitin Prasada, who switched to the BJP months before the 2022 UP Assembly polls, has been included in the Cabinet. Prasada, who was the PWD Minister in Yogi Adityanath's Cabinet, replaced Varun Gandhi in Pilibhit, winning the seat by a margin of over 1.6 lakh votes.

Meanwhile, other inclusions within the party have been strategically made with caste equations in mind.

BJP leader and six-time MP from Maharajganj, Pankaj Chaudhary, has been re-inducted into the Modi Cabinet, a move aimed at appeasing the backward Kurmi caste group, which partially drifted away from the BJP in recent elections.

Similarly, SP Singh Baghel, belonging to the Pal community, will continue as a Cabinet minister. Baghel secured a second-term victory from the Agra (reserved) constituency by a significant margin. To ensure representation of the Lodh community, Rajya Sabha member BL Verma has been re-inducted into the Modi Cabinet, especially since Rajveer Singh, son of late Lodh leader Kalyan Singh, lost his seat in Etah.

Kamlesh Paswan, MP from Bansgaon in Gorakhpur, represents the Dalit community in the Modi Cabinet at a time when Dalits, who supported the BJP in 2014 and 2019, shifted towards opposition in 2024. Paswan, from the Pasi sub-group within the Dalit community, is serving his fourth consecutive term as an MP, having also been an MLA in 2002.

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