The Hindu (Mumbai)

New U.P. Cabinet picks show BJP not taking any chances for Lok Sabha poll

- Anuj Kumar

The mini Cabinet expansion in Uttar Pradesh carried out by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday carries a political message in the runup to the Lok Sabha poll. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), which fought the 2022 Assembly polls with the Samajwadi Party (SP), turned against people’s mandate and have been awarded one Minister each by the BJP that till recently considered them parivarvad­i (dynastic parties).

Open to compromise

It shows that the ruling party, with its double engine, is not confident that fulfilling the core promises of Ram Temple and dilution of Article 370 alone will take the National Democratic Alliance beyond the kind of majority that PM Narendra Modi is seeking in Parliament this time round and that it is open to compromise on ideology.

With nine and six MLAs in the Assembly respective­ly, the RLD and SBSP influence at least two dozen Lok Sabha seats in the western and eastern parts of the State. By bringing them into the NDA fold, BJP has bought peace in areas that would have made it sweat.

Core demands unmet

However, the core demands of both parties have not been addressed so far. The RLD, which was instrument­al in galvanisin­g the farmers of western U.P. against farm laws and sought the legal guarantee of minimum support price, jumped ship at a time when farmers of Punjab and Haryana were again returning to the Delhi border. Party chief Chaudhary Jayant Singh had rejected the Agniveer scheme of Army recruitmen­t and was vocal against the divisive politics of the BJP in the region where Jats and Muslims have been living cheek by jowl.

Unconcerne­d, the BJP has repeated the tickets of both Ajay Mishra Teni and Sanjeev Balyan from Lakhimpur Kheri and Muzaffarna­gar respective­ly.

SBSP chief O.P. Rajbhar, who sounds a lot more ideologica­lly malleable and desperate for a red beacon on his car, had parted ways with the BJP government for not implementi­ng the subcategor­isation of the 27% OBC quota as per the recommenda­tions of a social justice committee. That demand still hangs in the balance.

That Mr. Adityanath has incorporat­ed Sahibabad MLA Sunil Sharma also reflects that he is amenable to the choices of the central leadership. With the inclusion of Dara Singh Chauhan, the party wants to reach out to the Nonia Chauhan community which influences the outcome in U.P. and Bihar border constituen­cies. Among the string of party hoppers, Mr. Chauhan is the biggest gainer as the loss in the Ghosi Assembly bypoll hasn’t dented his utility.

Salt on SP’s wounds

The expansion has also rubbed salt on the wounds of the SP, which has not been able to keep its flock together because of the insecuriti­es of the leadership that seems to be fed by a selfservin­g coterie.

It has also sent a message to the Bahujan Samaj Party. Be it Mr. Rajbhar, Mr. Chauhan, or Mr. Kumar, they all are products of the Kanshi Ram school of social justice.

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