Uttar Pradesh’s Panchayati Raj minister Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary was appointed state president by the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday. The decision was pending ever since Swantantra Dev Singh resigned from the post after becoming a minister in the second edition of the Yogi Adityanath-led government.
The announcement came even as there was speculation about deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and former deputy CM Dinesh Sharma being possible contenders.
Senior leaders in the party said that the BJP has gone beyond caste politics in Uttar Pradesh and this appointment of a Jat leader from western UP has been done to strike a balance between representation for different regions of the state. While the chief minister is from Purvanchal, the state president is from Paschim UP.
However, some in the party believe western UP was already represented in the organisation as newly appointed general secretary (organisation) Dharam Pal belongs to Bijnor.
Eye on 2024, targeting Jats in western UP
Party leaders feel that by picking Chaudhary, an MLC, as state unit chief, the BJP has tried to strike a chord with Jat leaders and voters. Chaudhary comes from Moradabad and the party lost Lok Sabha seats in that region in 2019.
Also, in the recently held assembly polls, the party faced a lot of heat from Jats because of the farmers’ agitation and had to work hard to placate the community. While it faced a drubbing in the region, it managed to save face by winning a respectable number of seats. However, the SP-RLD combine had given the BJP a tough time in the polls.
Beyond caste politics
While many in the party believe that the BJP has tried to strike a caste balance as well by giving a prominent post in the organisation to a Jat face in the state, a senior party leader opined otherwise.
A core organisation man with affiliations to RSS affiliate Vishva Hindu Parishad, he had been holding the post of Panchayati Raj minister in the state since 2017. He holds the record of getting 1.75 crore toilets constructed in rural areas and made 75 districts open-defecation-free.
“Chaudhary is an organisation man. He has worked on the ground. We needed a man who can take the organisation forward and to new heights," said the leader.
Message to adjoining Rajasthan
With the ruling Congress in Rajasthan facing a slew of challenges, leaders there believe the BJP is also sending a message to the Jat community in this poll-bound state. Rajasthan has a 15 to 18 per cent Jat population and the party hopes to consolidate it.
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