Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday evening expanded his cabinet inducting 7 new ministers including former Congress leader Jitin Prasada.
Apart from Prasada six others Chhatrapal Singh Gangwar, Paltu Ram, Sangita Balwant, Sanjeev Kumar, Dinesh Khatik and Dharmvir Singh administered oath as Ministers of State (MoS).
With 7 new inductions, the strength of the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has gone up to 60.
The expansion comes just months before assembly polls in Yogi Adityanath led Uttar Pradesh. The UP Chief Minister also inducted leaders in its team keeping in mind the cast equation of the state.
Jitin Prasada, who had exited Congress this year in July, had the top Brahmin face in Uttar Pradesh before jumping into the BJP in June. He had jumped ship from Congress to BJP amid the saffron party’s internal worries about the thin representation of the community in the party.
In poll-bound state, Brahmins makeup about 13% of votes and are an influential chunk that could steadily switch from the Congress to the BJP over the years. In July last year, Prasada launched a “Brahmin Chetna Parishad” but it had little impact.
Last week Yogi Adityanath had confidently predicted that the BJP would retain power in Uttar Pradesh with an overwhelming majority and he also expected to win over 350 of the state’s 403 seats.
In 2017 the BJP won 325. The Samajwadi Party and its allies won 54 and the BSP 19 seats.
The next year’s assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh is seen as the toughest test of BJP as the party has witnessed relatively poor performances in other states and also lost in West Bengal.
Earlier this year the BJP retained power in Assam but failed to make headway against Mamata Banerjee in Bengal, won zero seats in Kerala and lost in Tamil Nadu.
Next year’s UP election would be a tough task for the BJP to overcome from his MPs and MLAs concerns that they had raised during Covid second wave. There would be also questions on Yogi Adityanath’s accessibility and leadership to handle Covid second wave.