Uttar Pradesh Panchayati Raj Minister Bhupendra Singh Choudhary was appointed as the state president by the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday. The decision was pending since Swatantra Dev Singh resigned from the post after becoming a minister in the second edition of the Yogi Adityanath-led government.
The announcement came after there was speculation about Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and former Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma being the likely contenders.
Senior party leaders said that the BJP has gone beyond caste politics in Uttar Pradesh and the appointment of a Jat leader from western UP has been done to strike a balance between the representation of different regions of the state. While the Chief Minister is from Purvanchal, the State President is from West UP.
However, some in the party believe that the organization already had representation from western UP as the newly appointed general secretary (organisation) Dharam Pal is from Bijnor.
Eye on 2024, Jats target in western UP
Party leaders feel that the BJP has tried to strike a chord with Jat leaders and voters by electing Choudhary, an MLC, to head the state unit. Choudhary hails from Moradabad and the party lost the Lok Sabha seats from that region in 2019.
Moreover, in the recently held assembly elections, the party faced a lot of heat from Jats due to farmers’ agitation and had to work hard to pacify the community. Though it lost in this segment, it managed to save face by winning a respectable number of seats. However, the SP-RLD alliance gave a tough fight to the BJP in the elections.
beyond caste politics
While many in the party believe that the BJP has tried to strike a caste balance in the state by giving a Jat face a prominent position in the organisation, a senior party leader said otherwise.
“Chowdhary is an organization person. He has worked on the land. We needed a person who could take the organization forward and to newer heights,” the leader said.
Message for Nearby Rajasthan
With the ruling Congress facing many challenges in Rajasthan, leaders there believe that the BJP is also sending a message to the Jat community in this electoral state. Rajasthan has 15 to 18 per cent Jat population and the party hopes to consolidate it.