After a stupendous victory in the Uttar Pradesh elections, hectic parleys have begun in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over cabinet formation. Yogi Adityanath was in the capital on Sunday to discuss the details with JP Nadda, Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sixty MLAs can become Ministers in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet. The first and foremost question is whether the Cabinet will have a central BJP imprint or Yogi Adityanath’s imprint, as he is the main architect of the victory.
Yogi may have a bigger role to play unlike the last time in 2017, when he had lesser freedom. However, Amit Shah’s deputation as an observer also means that the Centre doesn’t want to give him a free hand as there was a lot of resentment against his style of functioning in the previous term.
Will the Govt Have Deputy Chief Ministers?
There are many questions on everyone's minds with respect to the Yogi 2.0 Cabinet.
Will the government have Deputy Chief Ministers? Will it abolish the post altogether or will the number be increased to include more caste groups such as SCs and minorities? Will the state follow the Karnataka model of no Deputy Chief Minister?
Keshav Prasad Maurya lost the election from Sirathu. Will he continue as Deputy Chief Minister if the party decides to have one? Technically, he is still a member of the Legislative Council and can be made a Deputy Chief Minister even though he is not an MLA. Or, will the party accommodate him in the organisation?
Will Dinesh Sharma be replaced as Deputy Chief Minister? There were reports of people not being happy with his behaviour. Will he be replaced by ex-Gujarat bureaucrat AK Sharma, a Bhumihar Brahmin, who is considered close to Modi?
Can a member from the Scheduled Caste community become a Deputy Chief Minister? The party has received good support from Dalits, 51% non-Jatav and 21% Jatav support, and may want to give them higher representation to make a permanent dent in Mayawati’s core vote. The BJP-led alliance has won 63 of the 85 reserved seats.
What About a Jat or SC Deputy CM?
In any cabinet formation, the caste composition of the state, the caste break-up of MLAs who have won on the party’s ticket, and region-wise representation are the key determining factors. Since Lok Sabha polls are two years away, the larger picture also needs to be taken into account.
As per the population, Uttar Pradesh has around 20% upper castes, 19% Muslims, 10% Yadavs, 21% Scheduled Castes and 30% Non-Yadav OBCs.
In terms of the composition of the House, as per calculations by Arvind Kumar, 33% of the MLAs belong to the upper caste, 38% are OBCs, 21% are SCs, 8% are Muslims and 1% are Sikh or others.
Most of the BJP’s MLAs are Brahmins (45), followed by Thakurs (43) and Kurmis (27). Jatavs (19) and Pasi (non-Jatav; 18) have also won in good numbers.
Twenty-one MLAs from the Bania/Vaishya community, 12 from Maurya and eight Jats have also won on BJP tickets. The one Muslim candidate from ally Apna Dal has lost the election.
With the BJP's eye on rewarding Jats for their continued support (57% as per CSDS) despite the farmers’ agitation and to make a further dent in the core Dalit vote, which has somewhat leaned towards the BJP in 2022, we may see a Scheduled Caste Deputy Chief Minister (Baby Rani Maurya?) and more ministers from the Jat community.
Even a Jat Deputy Chief Minister is being considered as per reports. Could it be Sanjeev Balyan?
The BJP Can't Ignore Brahmins
The Brahmins have backed the BJP in large numbers (89% as per the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) despite reports of disillusionment and neglect. They are influential voters and the BJP can’t risk ignoring them.
A Brahmin Deputy Chief Minister is likely to be inducted. Dinesh Sharma could be replaced by Brajesh Pathak, who joined the party after leaving the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) just before the 2017 polls, as per reports.
Non-Yadav OBCs, the kingmakers in Uttar Pradesh, have backed the BJP to the hilt despite the Mandal 2.0 onslaught by Akhilesh. If Maurya does not continue, then we can have a Deputy Chief Minister from the Kurmi community. Could it be Swatantra Dev Singh or Anupriya Patel?
In the previous cabinet of Yogi, which took oath in 2017, there were 47 ministers, including the Chief Minister. It included eight ministers each from the Brahmin and Rajput caste groups, three from the Khatri community, two Bhumihars, two Jats, four Bania/Vaishya, one Kayastha, five non-Yadav OBCs, three Kurmis, three Yadavs, three MBCs, three Dalits, one Sikh and one Muslim.
The aim of cabinet expansion is to give representation to each caste group, big or small, so as to maintain dominance, keep their support base intact as well as call out to other communities who may switch to the BJP in the near future.
(The author is an independent political commentator and can be reached at @politicalbaaba. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)