Saturday, June 3, 2023

Union Cabinet expansion signals mobility and opportunity in BJP


There is an inherent message in the recently held cabinet expansion, for BJP leaders as well as outsiders.

The party leadership believes in rewarding good work and it is equal for both who are long-term party members and those who joined it in recent years.

The inclusion of two former senior Congress leaders, Narayan Rane and Jyotiraditya Scindia, in the cabinet is seen as a message to leaders of the opposition party sitting on the fence. Another former Congress leader, Himanta Biswa Sarma, has been rewarded with the post of chief minister in Assam, something he always wanted. The Congress had not taken his wish or political power seriously. BJP’s move is an indication to other Congress leaders who want to change sides that they would get what they deserve.

It is not only about the Congress. SPS Baghel got a cabinet position from UP. Baghel was an MP thrice on a Samajwadi Party ticket, and then represented the Bahujan Samaj Party in the Rajya Sabha before joining the BJP in 2015. He was a minister in UP’s Yogi government before he became an MP from Agra in 2019. He was given preference in the cabinet over senior UP Dalit leaders Vinod Sonkar and Ram Shankar Katheria, who have served the party for long.

Belonging to the Dhangar caste, Baghel had good control over non-Jatav Dalit votes in Agra, Firozabad and Etawah. His ability to consolidate Dalit votes has been rewarded.

Annapurna Devi from Jharkhand became a minister within two years of her joining the BJP from the RJD. She is now looked up as a prominent OBC face of the party in Jharkhand.

From West Bengal, it has inducted Nisith Pramanik who joined the BJP in 2019. After it lost the assembly election and Mukul Roy’s return to the Trinamool Congress, the BJP is wary of an exodus of leaders to the state’s ruling party. With people like Pramanik and Santanu Thakur, BJP is not only targeting voter groups but also assuring the leadership that they would be taken care of.

From Maharashtra, Bharti Pawar, who had joined the BJP in 2019 before the Lok Sabha elections, has been inducted as the tribal face over Heena Gavit.

The insiders too are getting rewarded for performance. Seven junior ministers have been promoted to cabinet ranks while some seniors have been rested.

From UP, six-time Lok Sabha MP Pankaj Chaudhary has been inducted in the cabinet for the first time and so is Kaushal Kishor, a two-time MP from Mohanlalganj. It is believed that Chaudhary was not among the favourites to the current leadership. However, during the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign, the then party president Amit Shah had promised in Chaudhary and Kishore’s constituencies that if they win, they would be made ministers.

The mobility is there in the party too where new people are being trusted with responsibilities depending upon their work. Take the example of Mohit Beniwal, an IITian who had left his job in the US to join politics. Beniwal was the rally coordinator for West UP during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. His good work drew attention and the 43-year-old was made the West UP BJP chief in August last year. Being a Jat, Beniwal is working on the ground to reduce the anger among Jats after the farmer agitation.

K Annamalai, the former Karnataka IPS officer who joined the BJP in August last year, has been made the party state president of Tamil Nadu.

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