Himachal Pradesh gave all four seats to Bhartiya Janata Party, yet the most prominent young MP from the State, Anurag Singh Thakur, failed to get a place in the new Council of Ministers. At the same time, even after losing in Punjab, Raveneet Singh Bittu was sworn in as Minister while Smriti Irani, who lost in Amethi, was not so lucky.

Exclusion of Thakur and inclusion of Bittu was apparently surprising but had an underlying political message. It is believed that poor performance of the BJP in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls in November, 2022 and by-poll for six Assembly constituencies along with the Lok Sabha elections, dented the chance of Thakur retaining his seat in the Council.

BJP had lost the Assembly election in Himachal Pradesh. Subsequently, six Congress MLAs resigned and were fielded on the BJP ticket in bypolls held along with the Lok Sabha polls much like the Congress MLAs who quit Kamal Nath’s Cabinet in 2020 along with Jyotiraditya Scindia and were re-elected on the BJP’s ticket, toppling the Congress Government in Madhya Pradesh. However, in Himachal Pradesh, four of the six MLAs who contested on the BJP ticket lost the election. This means that the Congress government headed by Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu is safe and Anurag Thakur is being blamed for it.

Meanwhile, Bittu’s entry could be attributed to performance of BJP in Punjab. The party contested alone in the State. Though it did not open an account, it managed to get 18.5 per cent vote share giving a hope for better prospects in the coming days.

There was a buzz that Smriti Irani may again be included in the Council even after losing the election from Amethi Lok Sabha seat. However, considering very high number of representation from Uttar Pradesh, even after lesser number of seats won, she was left out.  Smriti’s colleague in the Council, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, not only lost the Lok Sabha election from Thiruvananthapuram but his term at the Rajya Sabha also ended in April.  He has not been included in the Cabinet. Apart from Thakur, Irani and Chandra Shekhar, nearly a dozen other Ministers have been dropped.

Another surprise was the exclusion BJP State President of Tamil Nadu K Annamalai. BJP performed well and garnered over 11 per cent vote share in the southern State but could not win any seat. There was expectation that Annamalai would be included in the Cabinet but L. Murugan has instead been included.

State-wise representation

Uttar Pradesh did not give expected results to the BJP as it managed to get just 36 seats out of 80. Still it has the biggest contingent of Ministers from the State. Apart from PM Modi, there are 10 members in the Union Council of Ministers from UP. The top most Cabinet Committee of Security will have two representatives from the State -- Rajnath Singh and the PM himself.

Bihar got 8 seats in the Council of which BJP and JD (U) and three members each. Here too, NDA had failed to repeat 2019 performance (winning 39 out of 40 seats) but it did not affect the State’s representation in the Council. Another State, Maharashtra also could not give desired result to the NDA, but still has 6 seats in the Council on par with Karnataka and Gujarat.

Surprisingly, Madhya Pradesh, even after 100 per cent track record, managed to get just 5 seats in the Council.  Delhi for the record third time gave all 7 seats to BJP has just one seat in the Council. Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh also gave a rich haul to the BJP which won 10 out of 11 seats. But the State was given just one seat.