From Being Axed as UP Finance Minister to Managing Finances for BJP: Rajesh Agarwal's Rollercoaster Ride
File photo of Rajesh Agarwal
As the BJP announced the names of new National committee on Saturday, it was Rajesh Agarwal’s name for the party treasurer that caught the maximum attention. BJP that has an unofficial line of retiring its leaders from active political life beyond the age of 74, brought in a new treasurer for itself who is 77 years of age.
Rajesh Agarwal, who has been a party veteran, has continuously been the Member of UP Vidhan Sabha since 1993. Agarwal who as the finance minister of Uttar Pradesh, was dropped from the yogi cabinet last year, will now be managing the finances for the entire party.
Though Agarwal is not the only leader from UP to get place in the central team, the focus is on him because of the obvious reasons. After being dropped from the cabinet in UP, many thought that Agarwal is being pushed to a corner and neglected further in the recently constituted state party executive and committee. But the veteran is back to the center stage.
Apart from Agarwal, MP Arun Singh who continues as the General Secretary and MP Rekha Verma has been appointed as the Vice president from UP in the newly constituted committee under JP Nadda.
Two other Lok Sabha members Vinod Sonkar and Harish Dwivedi have been brought in as new secretaries. MP Rajkumar Chahar from Fatehpur Sikri will be new head of the Kissan cell.
PULSE ON BOTH BUISNESS AND POLITICS
Rajesh Agarwal, who hails from Bareilly, comes from the trading community of the Vaishya Hindus. Agarwal’s father was a successful businessman in the region. Apart from his proximity to business, Agarwal was also brought close to the RSS.
“Rajesh Agarwal’s family had a close relationship with top RSS functionaries. Not just the family helped the RSS movement financially, Sangh leaders visiting Bareilly often stayed at Agarwal’s place. Therefore, Rajesh Agarwal was drawn towards the RSS from a young age,” Bareily based senior journalist Ashish Gupta informed.
During the heyday of Ram Temple movement in the 1990s, Rajesh Agarwal was deeply involved with the Sangh and the BJP. When the Kalyan Singh government in UP was sacked following the demolition of the Babri Mosque in December 1992, fresh assembly elections in UP were held in 1993. Rajesh Agarwal was then given a BJP ticket from Barely city constituency.
Since then, Agarwal had kept the party flag flying in his traditional seat of Bareily city and then the Bareily Cant.
During the coalition government of the BJP with BSP in 1990’s, Agarwal was inducted in state cabinet for the first time and then held the post of deputy speaker of UP Vidhan sabha from 2003 to 2007. He was also selected as the treasurer in Party’s state unit.
Known for his gentle nature, Agarwal has maintained good relation with people in his constituency. He still sits at his old office in Bareily city. It was the connect with people which fuelled his electoral success.
INDUCTION AND OUSTER
In 2017 as Yogi Adityanath emerged as a surprise pick for the chief minister in UP, Rajesh was brought in as the cabinet minister for finance. The portfolio was allotted since Agarwal was one of the senior most party MLA and someone who had a hold on business and financial issues.
However his tenure was surprisingly cut short in 2019 after he was dropped from the cabinet citing health reasons. It was rumoured that the Chief Minister was not happy with the way he was handling the office.
Since then Agarwal had been lying low. It was being speculated that he might be offered a good posting like a governor of any state, but his appointment as the national treasurer for the party has come as a bigger surprise.
It is being speculated that, Agarwal’s appointment comes with political concerns for the assembly elections in 2022. The party has not only given a message to the prominent Vashiya community, it has also tried to balance the internal dynamics of the party with his appointment.
The concern is reflected in other choices made from within the state. While Rekha verma is from the Kurmi backward caste, Vinod Sonkar is a Dalit and Harish Dwivedi is a young Brahmin face from eastern Uttar Pradesh.