A PROMINENT Dalit face of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, Union Minister of State Kaushal Kishore often finds himself in the news for reasons not pertaining to his post. In the latest, a man said to be a friend of his son was found shot dead in the early hours of Friday at Kishore’s residence in Lucknow.
The BJP MP from Mohanlalganj and a former head of the party’s Scheduled Caste wing in Uttar Pradesh, Kishore, 63, had been a surprise inclusion in the Narendra Modi government in its 2021 Cabinet expansion, when he was given the portfolio of Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development.
This is the highest profile role Kishore has enjoyed. Known as a “social activist” in the Mohanlalganj region, he began his political career around 20 years ago. In 2002, he won as an MLA from Malihabad as an Independent candidate, and was inducted as a minister in the Mulayam Singh Yadav government that followed.
His wife Jai Devi too is in politics now, and is a two-time BJP MLA from Malihabad (reserved) seat.
The couple have three sons, having lost one to drug addiction. Kishore then took on fighting against drugs as a campaign.
In 2021, another of his sons, Ayush, suffered a gunshot injury. The police findings were to show that he “staged the attack on himself”. The man found dead at the Kishore home on Friday was said to be the friend of the couple’s third son, Vikas.
During Covid, Kishore left the BJP hot under the collar when he raised questions regarding the functioning of the Health Department in UP, after his brother died due to the virus. In a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Kishore expressed concern over the state of the government hospitals in Lucknow.
Last year, following the murder of Shraddha Walker allegedly by her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawala, Kishore questioned those women who left their parents for such relationships, and suggested proper registration for the same.
Last month, Kishore and his wife accused local officials in UP of not picking up phone calls of elected representatives.
The reason that Kishore continues to enjoy the power and influence he does, with no repercussions over his statements, is his influence over the Pasi community.
After leaving the SP soon after he became a minister, reportedly as he wanted to move on to the Lok Sabha, Kishore had floated his own party. In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, he stood fifth from the Mohanlalganj seat with mere 577 votes. But as soon as he joined the BJP, the party gave him a ticket for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and he won getting 4.55 lakh votes against R K Chaudhary of the BSP.
In 2019, Kishore won for the second time from the seat, increasing his votes to 6.29 lakh, against C L Verma of the BSP. He was then made in-charge of the SC wing of the BJP.
Kishore’s inclusion in the Modi government’s Cabinet expansion of 2021 was seen as a bid by the party to woo the Pasis before the 2022 Assembly elections. Sources said Kishore lobbied for a ticket for one of his sons as well in 2022, but the BJP only agreed to re-fielding Jai Devi.
Sources said Vikas too is active politically, with the father pushing him as a possible political heir. The gun believed to have been used to shoot the man at the Kishore home was registered in Vikas’s name. Vikas was reportedly not at home at the time of the incident but away in Delhi.
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