2024 Lok Sabha elections shape Yogi Adityanath’s new team as caste matrix, geographical spread play key role
While 20 ministers are OBCs, nine are dalits though care has been taken to ensure adequate representation to upper castes with 21 ministers hailing from this group in the second Yogi Adityanath government
The composition of the Yogi Adityanath government 2.0 shows the exercise was undertaken with the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in mind as the selection of ministers reflects the caste matrix and the strategic geographical spread.
Yogi Adityanath’s 52-member team is expectedly heavy on other backward classes (OBCs) and dalits — the two key vote banks which have been the mainstays of the party’s domination in UP since 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
While 20 ministers are OBCs, nine are dalits though care has been taken to ensure adequate representation to upper castes with 21 ministers hailing from this group.
All key OBC subcastes – Maurya, Nishad, Chauhan, Gadaria and Rajbhar – are represented in the government. The two big OBC leaders in the new regime are Keshav Prasad Maurya (Maurya subcaste) and UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev (Kurmi subcaste).
The OBC representation is extended through its allies. Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad party represents the riverine community and Ashish Patel of Apna Dal (Sonelal) represents Kurmis. Of the nine Dalit ministers, two – Baby Rani Maurya and Asim Arun – are Jatavs, a Dalit subcaste to which BSP chief Mayawati belongs. There are ministers from Kori, Khatik and Valmiki dalit subcastes too.
The ministry also has minority representation in a Sikh and a Muslim minister. There is a Jat minister, one from the Kayastha community as well as a Khatri.
“The party has been consistently winning non-Jatav dalits over since 2014. But this time with dalits voting for the BJP in a big way, as was apparent from party’s clean sweep in Agra, (also called the dalit capital), two Jatav ministers show the BJP’s intent to aggressively go after the dalit vote bank,” said Irshad Ilmi, a political observer.
As for geographical representation, this time 23 ministers from western UP have found a place in the Yogi ministry, up from 12 ministers from the region who had found a place in Adityanath’s first government.
“There seems to be a good reason for the party increasing its west UP representation. This was the region where Jat voters were said to be angry with the BJP. Though that factor didn’t play out as badly as some had predicted, yet the fact that the sugarcane minister lost the elections from the region indicated that despite recalling farm laws, the party needed to focus more on that area ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls,” said AP Tiwari, a political analyst.
Fourteen ministers from east UP and 12 from central UP have also found a place this time. In 2017, the first Adityanath government had 17 ministers from east UP and 11 from central UP. “There are still eight vacancies in the Yogi Adityanath government which can accommodate up to 60 ministers. So nearer to 2024 Lok Sabha polls, we could see a rejig or a mini expansion. In east UP, the benefits of Yogi himself contesting the elections from Gorakhpur, were there for all to see. The party won all the assembly segments in the crucial east UP districts for the first time. Not just that, the party won 27 of the 28 assembly segments adjoining Gorakhpur. With CM himself from one part of east UP and the PM’s Lok Sabha seat in another part (Varanasi), east UP is obviously in focus too,” a senior BJP leader said. “There are ex-bureaucrats, ministers with engineering and management degrees, many of them are postgraduates. In typical Modi style, the party has been consistently focusing on promoting educated leaders. This Yogi ministry 2.0 is an extension of that,” a new minister said while requesting anonymity.