Ahead of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, BJP ally Apna Dal (S)’s national president Anupriya Patel on Wednesday was inducted in Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s council of ministers as MoS commerce and industry as the Centre underwent a major reshuffle, a first since the PM’s second term.
Patel, who hails from the Kurmi community, has been a minister in the first government led by PM Modi and is an MP from Mirzapur. She had recently met home minister Amit Shah, sparking off speculations of her rejoining the central team.
The first time BJP tied up with Anupriya Patel’s party was in 2014 when Shah was the Bharatiya Janata Party national president. Some experts called it as a “coup to carve out a dedicated OBC vote base in Uttar Pradesh".
A report in 2019 stated that though Patel was made the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, she was not assigned any significant work. All the decisions of the ministry were taken by then Cabinet minister, JP Nadda or the Minister of State, Ashwini Kumar Chaubey.
Patel was in 2014 new to the Delhi circuit but in UP, she is a known face. The minister is the daughter of prominent Kurmi caste leader Sone Lal Patel, who was one of the lieutenants of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) founder Kanshiram.
The two leaders later parted ways, following which Sone Lal Patel founded Apna Dal. But his party failed to give him any electoral dividend, and he never won any election.
Anupriya Patel delivered her first life-changing political speech at the memorial meeting for her father, who died in a road accident in 2009. Reports say that speech caught the attention of her father’s Kurmi supporters.
She won her first electoral battle in 2012 and became MLA from Rohania constituency. This constituency is part of the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat from where Narendra Modi is an MP.
She has now devoted her time demanding a separate ministry be formed to solve the problems being faced by the other backward classes (OBC). Addressing her party workers on the 72nd birth anniversary of Apna Dal founder Sonelal Patel four days ago, she said that her party has asked for the formation of a ministry for OBC on the lines of the Ministry of Minorities to solve the problems of the backward classes.
Apna Dal (S) has been continuously raising its voice in the Parliament for resolving the problems of farmers and proper implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations so that they can get a fair price for their produce, Patel added.