Modi’s new cabinet balances UP’s caste, regional dynamics

| | Lucknow
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Modi’s new cabinet balances UP’s caste, regional dynamics

Tuesday, 11 June 2024 | PNS | Lucknow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet 3.0 aims to balance the regional and caste dynamics of Uttar Pradesh. Interestingly, despite a significant drop in the number of Lok Sabha members elected from the state – from 64 in 2019 to 36 in 2024 – the representation of UP in the cabinet has increased by 8 per cent.

“In his new government, Prime Minister Modi aims to appeal to 60-62 per cent of the castes in UP, which influence 300-320 assembly constituencies. This strategic move is designed to potentially strengthen the Bharatiya Janata Party’s position in future elections, reflecting a nuanced approach to addressing the complex socio-political landscape of Uttar Pradesh,” said Prof Ajit Kumar Singh, former director of the Giri Institute of Development Studies in Lucknow.

A comparison of election results and ministerial representation reveals a strategic adjustment. In 2014, the BJP and its allies won 73 seats in UP, with 18 ministers, constituting 24.5 per cent of the cabinet. In 2019, the party secured 64 seats, but the number of ministers dropped to 13, representing 20 per cent of the cabinet. Despite winning only 36 seats in 2024, UP’s ministerial representation stood at 10, making up 28 per cent of the cabinet.

The new ministerial allocation ensures that various regions of UP are well represented. West UP has secured the maximum representation with four ministers, followed by Purvanchal with three ministers, and Awadh (central UP) with two ministers. This regional distribution reflects an effort to maintain political equilibrium across the diverse landscape of UP.

Modi’s new cabinet also focuses on caste balance, incorporating a mix of communities to address the changing electoral dynamics. The cabinet includes four ministers from the Other Backward Classes (OBC), with two coming from the Most Backward Classes. There are two ministers from the Dalit community, specifically from the Gadaria and Paswan communities, and three ministers from the upper castes. Notably, there are no ministers from the Jatav and Harijan communities, which indicates a shift in support from these groups away from the BJP.

The BJP’s diminished performance in UP is attributed to the shift of non-Jatav and Kurmi OBC voters towards the INDIA bloc. To address this, the reshuffle includes two ministers from the Kurmi community and two from the Most Backward Classes. Additionally, two ministers represent the non-Jatav communities, reflecting an effort to regain support from these voter segments.

In Purvanchal, where there are 27 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP won 10 seats, and its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) won one. This is a significant drop from 2019, when the BJP and Apna Dal (S) won 20 seats. Three ministers in the new cabinet hail from this region, indicating an effort to rebuild support there.

In West UP, the BJP won 14 out of 29 seats, with two seats going to its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal. In 2019, the BJP had won 21 seats in this region. Four ministers have been appointed from west UP, showing an emphasis on strengthening the party’s presence there.

In central UP and Bundelkhand, where the BJP secured nine out of 24 seats, only one minister has been appointed from this area, highlighting the challenges the party faces in this region.

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