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Mar 17, 2017 02:46 PM IST | Source:

Telecom minister Manoj Sinha says he's not in running for UP CM post

BJP sources say that Sinha is a front runner because he is an ‘Ajatshatru’ – a man without enemies.

Widely considered the favourite, Union Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said on Friday afternoon that he wasn’t in the race to become Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

Sinha's remarks come a day before the Bharatiya Janata Party, which managed a three-fourths majority in the UP Assembly elections, holds a legislature party meeting on Saturday to zero in on a chief ministerial pick.

Sinha, a three-time parliamentarian who represents Ghazipur in the Lok Sabha, told reporters outside Parliament that he is not in the race for chief minister nor does he know about any such race.

Tipped by many to be the next chief minister, Sinha is a man without enemies.

In 2014, a local BJP worker in Ghazipur opened a dhaba on the outskirts of the city. He invited Manoj Sinha, the local MP, to inaugurate the dhaba but did not expect him to turn up. Sinha was, after all, a Union Minister by this point. To the worker’s surprise, Sinha made it for the inauguration. This “connect” with his constituents is not uncharacteristic of Sinha.

At least till late last year, he spent most weekends in his native Ghazipur. However, the weekends are not spent lazing with family but holding darbars with people from all over the district. Every Saturday and Sunday, over a hundred people gather at his Ghazipur residence with their complaints and Sinha gives them all a patient hearing, even offering tea to all.

BJP sources say that Sinha is a front runner because he is an ‘Ajatshatru’ – a man without enemies.

“He (Sinha) is friendly with all factions in the BJP. Above all, he enjoys the confidence of both Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. BJP wants to avoid any sign of internal infighting. In such a scenario, they will want someone who is acceptable to all sides. He is close to Modi on one hand, and Rajnath Singh on the other. He is not overly ambitious so he can never be threat to Modi,” a close aide of the minister told News18.

Sinha cut his teeth in politics as a student leader. In 1982, at the age of 23, he became the president of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). However, it wasn’t until 1998 that he got his big break and was elected to the Lok Sabha. He was elected again in 1999 and after a long hiatus, returned to the Parliament in 2014. The PM showed his faith in Sinha by appointing him to the cabinet. During the 2017 Assembly campaign, he was one of the few star campaigners allotted a helicopter to himself.

Modi’s trust in Sinha comes from his “Mr Clean” image. He is believed to be a no-nonsense, work-oriented minister. Sources close to Sinha said that during his time as Minister of State (MoS) Railways, he often “picked up the slack” when Cabinet Minister Suresh Prabhu dropped the ball. “Suresh Prabhu confined himself to bringing in new technology while Sinha was largely looking after the day-to-day affairs. He impressed Modi during his time in railways and that is why he was given independent charge of Telecom Ministry after the Cabinet reshuffle,” a source said.


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