28 May-2014, Raghav Chopra: Sanjeev Balyan the local MP from Muzaffarnagar has been made MoS Agriculture and Food Processing Industries in Narendra Modi’s first cabinet. Balyan is a controversial figure in Muzaffarnagar with many alleging his direct role in the violence in last year’s riots.
Many are seeing his inclusion in the cabinet as a ‘reward’ for a job well done in Uttar Pradesh where BJP returned with its best ever haul.
Balyan has been charged with inciting mobs and making provocative speeches before the violence erupted in late August and early September last year.
He got anticipatory bail from the high court.
Many of the riots accused have taken up plots at the relief camps, reluctant to return to their homes, fearing another back lash. With a riot accused in the central government this fear has only increased.
For the first time, Uttar Pradesh with 19 per cent Muslim voters, failed to send even one Muslim MP to the Lok Sabha. The BJP and its allies won 73 of the state’s 80 seats.
The BJP won all 21 seats in the state where the Muslim population is over 10-12 per cent. These included Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Kairana, Baghpat, Saharanpur and Bijnor.
42-year-old Sanjeev Balyan used to be a veterinary doctor in Haryana. He quit that job and started his own property business in Meerut. He turned towards politics when Dr Lakshmikant Vajpayee became BJP state president. In 2012 Sanjeev became actively involved in politics when he organised a rally for Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari. The two senior leaders, however were late for the event, but Balyan was able to keep the crowds in place till the two arrived. This impressed the party leaders and kick started Balyan’s political journey.
After the Muzaffarnagar riots he was given a BJP ticket from the area. He won beating BSP’s Qadir Rana with 4 lakh votes. The jat leader is also credited by the party for the surprise victory of former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh over RLD leader Ajit Singh in Baghpat as he campaigned there extensively.
Including Balyan in the cabinet will also help the BJP consolidate its hold in western UP.
(Input source: News18)