3 Haryana MPs make it to Cabinet; Rattan Kataria a surprise induction

Caste equations, especially in view of the Assembly election due later this year, experience and loyalty remained the key factors for three Lok Sabha members from Haryana’s Gurugram, Faridabad and Ambala making it to the new Cabinet of the Narendra Modi government on Thursday.

Though Gurugram Lok Sabha MP Rao Inderjit Singh and Faridabad MP Krishan Pal Gurjar were both Ministers of State in the previous Modi government, induction of Ambala MP Rattan Lal Kataria, a Scheduled Caste, was a surprise element this time around.

Mr. Kataria — who made it to the Union Cabinet for the first time — had defeated senior Congress leader Kumari Selja in the recently concluded Lok Sabha election.

Eye on Assembly polls

Besides Mr. Singh, an Ahirwal, and Mr. Krishan Pal, a Gujjar, the previous NDA government had Virender Singh, a Jat, as Union Steel Minister. But the BJP chose a Scheduled Caste over a Jat this time around apparently with an eye on around 20% Dalit votes in the State in view of the Assembly election due in October.

With Dharambir Singh and Brijendra Singh, both Jats, winning their respective Lok Sabha seats from Bhiwani and Hisar, speculations were rife that one of the duo could make it to the Cabinet. The Jats comprise around 25%-30% of the population in Haryana. However, it seems the party tried to strike a balance between various castes in the State by not inducting a Jat leader this time, since BJP’s State chief Subhash Barala and Finance Minister Capt. Abhimanyu are both Jats.

Though the name of the first-time MP from Karnal, Sanjay Bhatia, who defeated his nearest rival and Congress leader Kuldeep Sharma with the highest margin of more than 6 lakh votes, was also doing the rounds for a likely position in the Cabinet, his caste and inexperience seemed to have acted against him. Mr. Bhatia, a Punjabi, was probably not considered since the community already has representation in the State in the form of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Though there were rumours that Mr. Inderjit Singh might not make it to Cabinet this year, mostly because of his open criticism of Mr. Khattar from several platforms and causing embarrassment to his own party in municipal elections by allegedly helping the rival camp, his influence among the Ahirwals in South Haryana seemed to have acted in his favour. Also, the five-time MP is the most experienced among the lot in Haryana. MP Rao Inderjit Singh was Minister of State for Planning (Independent Charge) in the previous Modi government.

Popularity matters

Mr. Gurjar, who was Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment in the previous Modi government, again made it to the Cabinet this time around, mostly on account of being the most prominent leader of his community in the State and his over three decades old unflinching association with the party. He started his journey to electoral politics as a BJP councillor in 1994. On July 1, 2009, he was appointed as Haryana BJP chief and the ensuing Assembly election was fought under his leadership.

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Printable version | Sep 12, 2021 2:52:57 AM |

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