A champion of the cause of backward sections, Anupriya Patel makes a comeback to Modi Cabinet ahead of UP Assembly polls

Forty-year-old Anupriya Patel, the president of Apna Dal – the BJP’s ally in Uttar Pradesh – is all set for her second stint in the central government. A champion of the cause of the backwards and deprived sections, Patel was also a minister in the first tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As the Modi cabinet underwent a major reshuffle on July 7, Patel was inducted to the cabinet and she took oath as a Minister of State (MoS) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

A member of Parliament from Mirzapur Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, the seat was won consecutively be her in in 2014 and 2019. She served as the Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare between 2016 and 2019. While her not being included in the Cabinet in 2019, when BJP came to power the second time, left her supporters disappointed, some reports claimed that Patel had herself declined the offer to be inducted as a minister of state again.

However, all that is now history as she has been sworn in the second time into Modi cabinet. Her induction in Cabinet, sources say, is signficant ahead of Assembly elections in UP, which will be held next year. The Mirzapur MP belongs to the Kurmi community, and the fact that the Other Backward Classes (OBC) have a sizeable number of voters in the key Purvanchal region, will influence the electoral arithmetic not just in next year’s Assembly polls but also the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

“We have demanded the formation of a ministry for OBCs on the lines of the Ministry of Minorities to solve the problems of the backward classes,” she had said at a meeting of party workers on the 72nd birth anniversary of Apna Dal founder Sonelal Patel earlier this month. She is the daughter of Sone Lal Patel – who founded the Apna Dal party apart parting ways with BSP founder Kanshiram. Patel has been saying that though they are getting their share in the administration, still the gap of inequality is huge. “We have to struggle a lot to bridge it,” she said, while making a demand for the setting up of a national memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Delhi.

Her party has been continuously raising its voice in Parliament for resolving the problems of farmers and proper implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations so that they could get a fair price for their produce. The buzz that she could be accommodated in the Union ministry grew louder after she recently met the BJP brass in New Delhi after staying away from the corridors of power ever since the NDA embarked on its second term in 2019.

Patel pursued her higher education from Lady Shri Ram College for Women in Delhi and Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, formerly Kanpur University. She holds a master’s degree in psychology and also Masters in Business Administration. Before winning the Mirzapur Lok Sabha seat in 2014, in 2012 Patel was elected as the member of Uttar Pradesh assembly from the Rohaniya seat, which falls in Varanasi district.

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