BJP picks Union minister Mahendra Nath Pandey as UP unit President
The appointment of Union minister Mahendra Nath Pandey as the Uttar Pradesh BJP president appears to be a calculated move by the saffron party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to consolidate the crucial Brahmin vote in the country's most populous state. Brahmins constitute over 10 per cent of the electorate in the state and their support can swing electoral fortunes in almost all the regions of the state - Bundelkhand, Rohilkhand, Purvanchal, Awadh and western UP.
59-year-old Pandey brings with him rich experience in organisational matters having served as UP BJP general secretary and various other key positions.
A first-time Lok Sabha member from Chandauli in eastern UP bordering Bihar, Pandey shot into prominence after his induction in the Union government in July last year. The Brahmins, who were traditionally considered Congress supporters, had been siding with BJP in the post-Mandal era. However, a large chunk of them later also voted for Mayawati's BSP.
Pandey, a two-time MLA, was elected to the UP Legislative Assembly in 1991 and 1996. He also has been the secretary of the BJP legislature party.
In 1997, Pandey became Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development and was the MoS Planning (Independent charge) between 1998 and 2000 in UP. He was also the MoS Panchayati Raj in UP between 2000 and 2002.
During his student days, he was secretary of BHU students' union representing ABVP, the student wing of BJP.
Pandey will take charge from incumbent Keshav Prasad Maurya, who has been holding dual charge of UP BJP chief and deputy chief minister.
UP BJP spokesman Manish Shukla said the party will benefit from Pandey's vast experience spanning student union activities to electoral politics.