By Rahil Nora Chopra
The Uttar Pradesh assembly election in 2022 is the semi final before the final of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, as Uttar Pradesh is a crucial state and plays an important role in Lok Sabha polls. Seeing this, seven ministers from Uttar Pradesh were sworn in at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday. Of the seven newly-inducted ministers from UP, Anupriya Patel heads BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) and was a minister in the first Narendra Modi government. The rest are from the BJP. Anupriya Patel, Pankaj Chaudhary, B L Verma and S P Singh Baghel are from the Other Backward Classes, which according to BJP leaders in UP make up 50 per cent of voters in the state. Anupriya Patel and Pankaj Chaudhary are from the Kurmi community, which comprises 10 per cent of UP’s population. The Kurmis are also the second largest OBC demographic component in the state, after the Yadavs. Kurmis play a significant electoral role in a dozen districts, including Mirzapur, Prayagraj, Maharajganj and Jaunpur. B.L. Verma, the 59-year-old Rajya Sabha MP, is the third OBC face from the state. He is of the Lodhi caste and has been the state BJP vice-president since 2018.Verma is also considered as a close aide of former CM Kalyan Singh. Two others — Kaushal Kishore and Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma — are from the Scheduled Castes category, while Ajay Mishra is a Brahmin. The focus has been on Uttar Pradesh which is the most crucial state for the BJP given the number of Lok Sabha seats. The inclusion of allies like JD(U), Apna Dal etc. indicates that the Modi government is not willing to let go more of its allies since two of its major partners – Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal had already deserted the NDA over different issues. The move will boost the confidence of its allies and this is expected to prove beneficial for the saffron party in the coming polls.
CHIRAG MOVES COURT AGAINST OM BIRLA DECISION
Pashupati Kumar Paras, leader of a faction of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) that walked away with most of the party’s Lok Sabha MPs, was administered the oath of office as Union Cabinet minister. The rival faction led by Jamui MP Chirag Paswan has moved Delhi High Court against Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s decision to declare Paras as the LJP Parliamentary party leader. The Chirag-led LJP, which had walked out of NDA in Bihar from 2020 assembly election, is still part of the NDA at the Centre. However, Chirag and LJP leaders did not directly attack the BJP but hold it responsible for engineering a split in the party and also blamed Nitish Kumar for this.
EXCITEMENT IN CM CAMP OVER AMARINDER-KISHOR MEETING
After a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi to finalise a roadmap for the 2022 assembly elections, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Wednesday met political strategist Prashant Kishor at Kapurthala House, the CM’s residence in Delhi. The CM camp was elated at the meeting, which took place amid a feud between Amarinder and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and a banner of revolt raised by several other party leaders. A few leaders, considered close to Amarinder, said Kishor’s apparent interest in Punjab was enough to give his camp a new lease of life after the party was hit by a damaging internal crisis. Kishor had successfully stitched together Amarinder’s 2017 election campaign and the latter has been keen on roping him in for a repeat performance. However, after his decision to quit the vocation of poll strategizing following the West Bengal elections, Kishor has not clarified on his Punjab plan as yet. He was earlier appointed the principal adviser to the CM and had held preliminary meetings with officials on pending poll promises. Meanwhile, there have been reports that Kishor’s team had been conducting surveys to gauge the party’s prospects.
PRESSURE BUILD-UP TO PUT HOODA IN CHARGE OF HARYANA CONGRESS
Lobbying for an influential role for former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, a group of 21 Haryana Congress MLAs, considered loyal to him, sought an appointment with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi. However, the Haryana Congress MLAs visited AICC headquarters to meet Venugopal, the Congress general secretary in charge of organisation. Later, some of the 21 legislators held a meeting with him. The five legislators — Kuldeep Vats, Varun Chowdhury, B.L. Saini, Raghubir Kadyan and B.B. Batra — who met Venugopal wanted state Congress chief KumariSelja to be replaced, party sources said. According to them, the organisation is in a shambles in the state, with no district unit chiefs for the last eight years. They wanted the Congress high command to hand over the reins of the Haryana unit to Hooda, the only party leader with a mass base in the state. While AICC in-charge for Haryana affairs Vivek Bansal, in an attempt to take the former CM on board in the appointments for party organisation in the state, met Hooda and his son and Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Singh Hooda. Sources say differences had developed between Hooda and Selja last year when the former CM succeeded to get a party ticket for Deepender for the Rajya Sabha seat at a time when Selja was seeking re-election to the Upper House. Hooda is the Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly, while Kumari Selja is the state Congress president. The Congress has 31 MLAs in the state. As per the sources, to continue its stronghold in the state unit, the camp of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is putting pressure on the Congress high command ahead of appointments from district to state level of the party. According to sources, Selja has submitted a list of District Congress presidents to the General Secretary Organisation but that has been put up on hold till the MLAs are heard. The whole episode has once again highlighted the infighting of the state leaders.
UTTARAKHAND CM DHAMI KEEPS 15 PORTFOLIOS WITH HIMSELF
Pushkar Singh Dhami, the youngest Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, distributed portfolios to his Cabinet ministers, giving some key departments to senior ministers Satpal Maharaj, Harak Singh Rawat, Yashpal Arya and Dhan Singh Rawat. Dhami kept with himself 15 departments. Satpal Maharaj got PWD, Harak Singh Rawat Energy and Renewable Energy, Yashpal Arya Excise, Yastishwaranand got Rural Development and Dhan Singh Rawat Medical Health and Medical Education. This is first time in the state that the Chief Minister will not hold the Medical Health portfolio. Dhami takes over the reins of power at a time when Uttarakhand has just a few months to go for the Assembly polls, which are due early next year. (IPA)