Cabinet Calls for Modi Govt 2.0 Have One Clear Pattern: Rewarding Giant Slayers of Lok Sabha Polls
Smriti Irani, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Prakash Javadekar, Babul Supriyo and several other names were among more than 40 BJP leaders to receive a call-up for Narendra Modi’s second cabinet.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP national president Amit Shah.
New Delhi: One distinct pattern, as one goes through the list of the BJP MPs who have been included in the ministerial ranks, points at a reward for those who turned out to be giant slayers in the Lok Sabha elections.
Former cabinet minister Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the Gandhi home-turf of Amethi in her second attempt, of course tops the list. In what was surely one of the biggest poll upsets of 2019, Irani who had been camping in Amethi for several months defeated Gandhi by a bigger margin (3.70 lakh votes) than what she had suffered in 2014 at the hands of Rahul Gandhi (1.07 lakh votes).
Even before counting of ballots had concluded for Amethi, Rahul Gandhi in a terse press conference said, "I want Smriti Irani ji to keep people's faith and take care of Amethi with love."
Debashree Chowdhury also pulled off a stunning victory against all odds, winning West Bengal's Raiganj seat. Chowdhury was fighting against heavyweights like CPI(M) MP Mohammad Salim, Kanhaiyalal Agarwal of the Trinamool and Congress's Deepa Dasmunsi. While many considered this seat to be a direct contest between Salim and Dasmunsi, Chowdhury came out as a surprise winner in this seat, 53 per cent of whose voters are Muslim.
Two names from Rajasthan have also made the cut in final list: Barmer MP Kailash Choudhary and Jodhpur MP Gajendra Shekhawat.
BJP candidate from Barmer, former MLA Kailash Choudhary was fighting against odds even before he began campaigning. There were murmurs of dissent when Col Sona Ram, the incumbent MP from Barmer which shares its western boundary with Pakistan, was denied a ticket. Given the fact that Barmer was once considered a traditional Congress seat and the goodwill of Manvendra Singh's father Jaswant Singh, many considered Barmer contest to be a simple walkover for Congress's Manvendra.
Choudhary, however, ended up surprising many when he defeated his rival by a huge margin of 3.23 lakh votes. Choudhary's inclusion in the list could also be seen as a reward for the Jats of the state who wholeheartedly supported the BJP.
If Choudhary is seen as a Rajasthani Jat face, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat can be seen as the Rajasthani Rajput face in the cabinet. Shekhawat, who was reported to be BJP high command's choice as its state unit chief before Vasundhara Raje thwarted the attempt, was fighting against the son of the chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
The victory assumes greater value when one considers that Ashok Gehlot is Jodhpur MLA who spent a significant portion of his time camping in the Lok Sabha seat, for which he was later criticised by Rahul Gandhi, for his son Vaibhav Gehlot. Following a Rajput backlash in state in 2017, Shekhawat was made MoS Agriculture.
Subrat Pathak is another giant-slayer who defeated Dimple Yadav in what is considered to be an SP stronghold, Kannauj. A Brahmin leader, Pathak started his career early in the BJP, heading its district unit of student wing. Like Irani, Pathak had made unsuccessful attempts to win a rival's 'family seat' and finally emerged victorious in his third attempt by fighting the combined force of SP-BSP-RJD. Also, this was one of the seats where Congress had not fielded a candidate.
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