Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calls itself a cadre-based party where those associated with the ideology are always preferred. But in the last few elections and ministerial expansion, this much-publicised inner-party rule is proving to be a myth. The party has given big responsibilities to non-cadre leaders in the cabinets in various states and at the Centre. In fact, the outsiders are being trusted over those who have been in the party for decades.
In July 2021, PM Modi had included 36 fresh faces in his Cabinet, and the same trend continued when it came to deciding the Cabinet formation of Yogi 2.0. Turncoat Jitin Prasad has been given the important portfolio of the Public Works Department (PWD). He had joined the BJP just before the elections. Question is – what message the BJP is trying to give by inculcating parachuters in important places.
Thirty-one new faces have been included in the Yogi 2.0 Cabinet, of which few are those who joined the BJP from other parties recently. These names include:
Jitin Prasad was a junior minister in the UPA government and was considered close to Rahul Gandhi. But in June 2021, he joined the BJP and has been now entrusted with an important portfolio like PWD in Yogi 2.0.
Rakesh Sachan has got MSME ministry which was with Sidharth Nath Singh in the last Yogi regime. Sachan had been in both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress. He had joined the BJP just before the 2022 Assembly elections.
Nand Gopal Nandi began his political career with the BSP. He fought the Lok Sabha election in 2014 on a Congress ticket and later joined the BJP. He is now a Cabinet Minister for Industrial Development, Export, NRI, and Investment Promotion.
Jaiveer Singh charted his political career through Congress and BSP, and is now a BJP MLA and has been made minister for Tourism and Culture in Yogi 2.0.
Nitin Agarwal, a former SP leader, is now Minister for Excise and Prohibition. It is considered an important revenue-earning department for the state government.
AK Sharma, who is considered close to Prime Minitsre Narendra Modi, was an IAS officer of Gujrat Cadre. He has been given the Urban Development and Energy ministry.
Focus On Developing Brahmin and Kurmi Leadership
Two much-talked-about fresh faces in the Cabinet of Yogi 2.0 are Jitin Prasad and Rakesh Sachan. Both have a Delhi connection to their politics and it is being said that the central leadership of the BJP is looking to develop a new Brahmin leadership that remains loyal to Delhi.
When Jitin Prasad was in the Congress, he failed to establish himself as a Brahmin leader despite his politics through Brahmin Ekta Manch. But he was projected as a Brahmin leader when he joined the BJP. Besides him, firebrand Brijesh Pathak is also included as Deputy Chief Minister.
Political experts say that inducting fresh faces to the Council of Ministers is part of the strategy of the central leadership of the BJP to create a crop of leaders who do not buckle down under local pressure.
Rakesh Sachan, a Kurmi leader, is also considered close to Delhi. This election saw the division of Kurmi votes in Uttar Pradesh and incumbent Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya lost the election from his Sirathu seat by over 7,000 votes. Interestingly, more Kurmi MLAs won on SP ticket than Yadavs. The division of votes prompted the BJP to promote new Kurmi faces and Rakesh Sachan from central UP was one such leader. He has considerable influence in Kanpur Rural, Fatehpur, and Bundelkhand regions, and the BJP is aiming to target Kurmi voters through him in 2024.
Loyalty to Delhi Is the New Altar
A glance at the Yogi 2.0 Cabinet reveals that those leaders who are considered close to the Delhi leadership have been given preference. Daya Shankar Mishra ‘Dayalu’ is one such example, who was doing politics in Congress for decades in the Varanasi region. He was the most surprising name on the list of ministers. Dayalu has been made a Minister of State (MoS) with Independent Charge. Interestingly, he is neither an MLA nor a member of the UP Legislative Council (MLC) but has become a minister. He is considered close to PM Modi.
Five-term MLA Mayankeshwar Sharan Singh is now a BJP legislator from the Tiloi assembly segment in Amethi. He is considered close to Yogi Adityanath and has been made a MoS.
The argument being put forward is that the BJP leadership is preparing a team of leaders according to their own suitability. The names in the Council of Ministers in the new Yogi government clearly shows the growing trend.
The big question, however, remains – why CM Yogi Adityanath has not been able to fit in the mould of central leadership. “The loyalty to the leadership than the party is considered a more important virtue. Yogi Adityanath may show his devotion to the BJP but he has not been able to win the confidence of the leadership. He is also being seen as a possible option which prevents him to become part of central leadership,” Siddharth Kalhans, a senior journalist, said.
The decisions of PM Modi and Amit Shah never stop amusing the political pundits. They do not play by the formulas and established trends. BJP in UP is now looking for a new state president and it is being said that a Brahmin or a Dalit could be a suitable choice but it would not be a surprise if a non-cadre leader is given the command of the party in the state. That would fit into the new pattern of giving priority to fresh faces, as established by the Yogi 2.0 Cabinet, many of them being parachuters.
(Translated from Quint Hindi by Arvind Singh.)