The inclusion of Anupriya Patel, the Mirzapur MP from Apna Dal, in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi ministry is purely aimed at Uttar Pradesh politics and the assembly elections next year, sources said.
She is also expected to merge Apna Dal, a fledgling caste-based party with its support base in eastern Uttar Pradesh, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in order to give a much needed boost to the latter in the state.
The BJP has been out of power in the state for the last 15 years.
Patel, 35, is the daughter of popular OBC Kurmi leader of his time Sonelal Patel who died in 2009.
The BJP hopes to use her to counter the youth leadership of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the Dalit credentials of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati.
The soft spoken lawmaker is a much sought after leader for the BJP in eastern Uttar Pradesh for her caste factor as Kurmis have sizeable strength in the region, including in Prime Minister Modi’s constituency of Varanasi.
The significance of the caste factor she brings on board can be appreciated from the fact that the BJP, which favours contesting alone in the state, had readily aligned with her party for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Educated at Lady Shri Ram College for Women in Delhi, Amity University and Kanpur University, she holds a Masters degrees in Psychology as well as in Business Administration.
The political grapevine has it that Patel resisted for months the BJP’s overtures to her for a merger of the two parties, coming across as a politician with firm resolve.
As Lok Sabha MP, she is a member of various parliamentary panels, including the Committee on Empowerment of Women, Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).