UP Cabinet expansion likely today; 7 ministers may take oath
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is reportedly likely to expand his Cabinet on Sunday evening. At least seven new faces are expected to take oath at 5.30 pm at Raj Bhawan in Lucknow, according to reports. The expansion comes months before the 2022 UP Assembly elections and will focus on unrepresented castes and political parties. Here are more details.
Many names are doing the rounds for today's oath-taking. These include Sangeeta Bind, Jitin Prasada, Chhatrapal Gangwar, Paltu Ram, Dinesh Khatik, and Krishna Paswan. Others include Tejpal Nagar, Sanjay Nishad, Baby Rani Maurya, Sanjay Gaur, Dharamveer Prajapati, and Sangeeta Chauhan. Notably, the Adityanath government has 53 ministers, including 23 Cabinet ministers, nine ministers of state (independent charge), and 21 ministers of state at present.
The expansion comes months before the UP Assembly polls, considered crucial for the BJP as the polls are expected to set the tone for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The new induction will reportedly focus on including unrepresented castes and political allies. In UP, the BJP mainly relies on "upper caste," non-Jatav Dalits, and non-Yadav OBCs as their vote bank.
Jitin Prasada, who joined the saffron party from the rival Congress in June, is a notable Brahmin leader in UP. Reports said Prasada's entry into the UP Cabinet would help the BJP change the narrative that the state government is pro-Thakur (CM Adityanath's caste). Notably, Brahmins comprise 13% of UP's population and play a decisive role in government formation.
Sanjay Nishad of Nishad Party—a BJP ally—is also rumored to be inducted into the Cabinet. Reports say this is an attempt to mend ties that soured after Nishad's son was dropped from the Union Cabinet in July. Nishad had warned the BJP of "consequences in the upcoming Assembly poll." Nishad belongs to the non-Yadav OBC community that adds OBC votes to the BJP's kitty.
The importance of UP for the BJP is reflected in the fact that UP accounts for the largest chunk of Cabinet ministers at the Centre. Fourteen Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs from UP are currently serving as ministers at the Centre. Retaining power in UP is crucial for the BJP as it has recently suffered setbacks in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.