New Delhi: Beni Prasad Verma, elevated to
Cabinet rank, is a veteran with vast administrative experience
who has never looked back after he severed ties with his
old-time friend and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav
and moved to Congress in 2009.
The 70-year-old OBC leader from the Kurmi caste has
been rewarded with a cabinet berth as he was unhappy when he
was not given this rank in the previous reshuffle in January
and had to remain content with the portfolio of Minister of
State for Steel (Independent Charge). He has now got the same
Beni`s promotion to Cabinet rank appears to be keeping
in mind next year`s Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh where
the Congress will be banking on him to win OBC support--mainly
Kurmis whose population in the state is sizeable.
BJP has already brought in Uma Bharti, a Lodh OBC
leader, while Mulayam Singh Yadav hopes to keep intact the
votes of his community.
Verma was known as Yadav`s alter ego in the early 1990s
till the rise of Amar Singh in the Samajwadi Party put him in
the shadows. Verma was a powerful general secretary and had
opposed the growing influence of Amar Singh in the party.
Eventually the two fell out and Verma left SP.
After having a mixed bag of electoral successes and
failures, Verma finally contested and won the 2009 Lok Sabha
polls on a Congress ticket.
The MP from Gonda in Uttar Pradesh has vast
administrative experience, having served as Communications
Minister from 1996-98 in the United Front government. He was
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and later Minister
of State (Independent Charge) in the Communications Ministry
in the same government.
This is Verma`s fifth term in the Lok Sabha. He has
been a member of the Lower House since 1996. He was re-elected
in 1998, 1999 and 2004.
A law graduate from Lucknow University, Verma became an
MLA for the first time in 1974 on a Bhartiya Kranti Dal ticket
in Uttar Pradesh. From 1977-80, he was minister of jails, Cane
development and sugar industry.
From 1989-91, he was minister of Public Works
Department, Excise and Parliamentary Affairs in the Yadav
Verma has joined and left several parties in his long
politcal career. After leaving BKD, he had joined Janata
Party, then shifted to Bhartiya Lok Dal and later to the