New Delhi: A trusted aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several prominent Other Backward Classes (OBC) leaders, a former IPS officer, a noted Brahmin face, the son of a veteran Congress leader who once challenged Sonia Gandhi, and a lone Muslim face. These are just some of the 52 ministers who took oath as members of Yogi Adityanath’s second government of Uttar Pradesh at a gala event in Lucknow Friday. Sixteen ministers have received cabinet billing, while 34 are ministers of state. There are two deputy chief ministers once again.
While the induction of former IAS officer AK Sharma, who was part of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for several years, and return of incumbent Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, despite losing his seat, did not come as a surprise, the most striking growth is that of Brajesh Pathak, the new deputy CM, who replaces Dinesh Sharma.
Pathak who, like Sharma, is a Brahmin face, jumped ship from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the 2017 assembly polls.
ThePrint takes a look at some of the prominent faces in the new Yogi ministry.
Brajesh Pathak, Deputy CM
Once BSP’s Brahmin face, Pathak had won from the Unnao parliamentary seat in 2004.
He was known to be very close to Mayawati, and used to touch her feet every time she came to Parliament.
He started off as a student leader at the Lucknow University in 1989, and was elected president of the Lucknow University Students’ Union in 1990. He fought his first election on a Congress ticket in 2002, but lost, and then switched to the BSP, and also made it to the Rajya Sabha in 2009. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he lost from Unnao, and switched to the BJP before the 2017 assembly election, when he fought from the Lucknow Central seat and became law minister in the first Yogi government.
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Keshav Prasad Maurya, Deputy CM
Keshav Prasad Maurya is BJP’s home-grown OBC face who won his first assembly election from Sirathu in 2012, and the Lok Sabha election from Phulpur in 2014.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah first spotted him when, as party president, he was building ground for a BJP victory in UP in 2017. Shah made Maurya the party’s state president considering UP caste politics and the importance of Maurya-Saini votes.
Like PM Modi, Keshav Prasad started off as a tea-seller at the Sirathu railway station. He spent 20 years in the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), and was known to be close to VHP’s Ashok Singhal.
Maurya has been made deputy CM for the second term despite losing the election from Sirathu . BJP leaders had earlier told ThePrint that removing Maurya altogether from the cabinet would send a very bad signal to OBC voters ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Swatantra Dev Singh, cabinet minister
BJP state president Swantra Dev Singh is from the Kurmi caste — one of the largest OBC communities in UP. A former journalist, he started his political career with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student offshoot of BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
He was elected as state president of the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in 2001. In 2004, he was made the general secretary of UP BJP, elected to the legislative council as an MLC, and later the vice-president of the party’s state unit as well.
Singh was in charge of PM Modi’s rallies during the 2014 elections in UP. After his 2017 victory, he was inducted as minister of state with independent charge of transport, before becoming BJP state president in 2019.
Jitin Prasada, cabinet minister
Jitin Prasada, son of veteran Congress leader Jitendra Prasada, is a former Congress leader who had once written to Sonia Gandhi calling for “introspection”.
A Brahmin leader, Prasad was inducted into the BJP in June 2021. The BJP made him a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government and nominated him as an MLC as well, when there was a strong wind of Brahmin resentment towards the Yogi government.
Prasada, a Doon School alumni, was inducted as minister months before the announcement of assembly polls. He was given charge of the technical education ministry in the last cabinet.
Aseem Arun, minister of state (independent charge)
Aseem Arun is a former IPS officer who has served as the police commissioner of Kanpur, as well as chief of UP’s Anti-Terrorism Squad. He is a retired 1994-batch IPS officer of the UP cadre, and his father Sriram Arun was once state DGP. He took voluntary retirement to join BJP.
Arun was inducted by the BJP just before the recent state assembly elections, which he fought and won from Kannauj. The BJP had projected Arun as its Jatav face, as well as a representation of its law and order plank.
Baby Rani Maurya, cabinet minister
Maurya first came to the limelight when she became the first Dalit woman mayor of Agra in 1995 and remained in the post till 2000. She worked as treasurer in the BJP’s SC Morcha in 1997 with Ram Nath Kovind, now President of India.
She is a former Uttarakhand governor who belongs to the Jatav community, which is perceived to be the “core vote bank” of the BSP.
The daughter of a former IPS officer, Baby Rani was chosen as a member of the National Commission for Women in 2002. In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh elections, she contested from Ehtmad seat, but lost. She was BJP’s UP secretary, but before the assembly elections, she was made BJP vice-president.
To cut Mayawati’s Jatav vote bank, she was projected as the Jatav face of the BJP.
Danish Azad Ansari, minister of state
Ansari has become the part of the Yogi government as the lone Muslim face of the party. He has been made the minister of state for minority affairs.
The 32-year-old politician has been associated with the BJP since 2011. He is a commerce graduate from Lucknow University and also received his master’s degree in public administration from there.
He was made a member of the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Memorial Committee in 2018 and later of the Urdu Committee.
In October 2021, Ansari was also appointed state ‘mahamantri’ for the party’s Minority Morcha. The Ballia leader has replaced Mohsin Raza, who was also the lone Muslim face in the first Yogi ministry as minister of state for minority welfare, Muslim Waqf and Hajj in UP.
A.K. Sharma, cabinet minister
A former Gujarat-cadre IAS officer and close confidant of PM Modi, A.K. Sharma was appointed vice-president of the UP BJP after he took voluntary retirement in 2021 to join the BJP. Soon after, he was nominated as member of the Legislative Council (MLC). Sources told ThePrint that Modi wanted him to be inducted into the cabinet during the 2021 expansion, but Adityanath had objections to the same.
Sharma has worked with Modi since the latter’s days as Gujarat chief minister. He was secretary of the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), and joined the PMO as joint secretary after Modi’s 2014 win. He was with the PMO till April 2020.
Surya Pratap Shahi, cabinet minister
Former BJP UP president Surya Pratap Shahi won the Pathardeva assembly constituency of Deoria district this year with 52.5 per cent votes. He was a minister in the Kalyan Singh-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh in 1991 and 1996, and has held important portfolios such as home, health and family welfare.
Anil Rajbhar, cabinet minister
Anil Rajbhar, who has replaced Om Prakash Rajbhar (whose Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party fought the assembly elections in alliance with the SP), is the son of Ramjit Rajbhar, a former BJP MLA.
Anil defeated O.P. Rajbhar’s son Arvind from Shivpur constituency in this election. He was a minister in Yogi’s first cabinet.
Sanjay Nishad, cabinet minister
An OBC leader and president of the Nishad Party, Sanjay Nishad contested these elections in alliance with the BJP. The Nishad Party had bagged six seats in the assembly polls.
J.P.S. Rathore, minister of state (independent charge)
BJP’s state general secretary, Rathore was given responsibility of western UP before the elections. He was previously BJP vice-president, and has an M.Tech. degree from Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
Sanjiv Gaur, minister of state
Obra MLA Sanjiv Gaur was inducted in the first Yogi ministry as minister of state for social welfare and SC/ST welfare. He defeated Samajwadi Party’s Arvind Gaur by 6,717 votes in this year’s assembly polls.
Ashish Patel, cabinet minister
Union Commerce and Industry MoS Anupriya Patel’s husband Ashish was not inducted into the Yogi government earlier, but has been given a place in it this time.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
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