Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (File image)
The BJP is confident of winning Uttar Pradesh under the leadership of Yogi Adityanath, sources in the government and the BJP have said, dismissing as "baseless rumours” the talk of replacing the chief minister ahead of the 2022 assembly election.
Adityanath, who was in the national capital on June 10 and 11, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda, sending the rumour mill in overdrive. The visit came a few days after senior BJP leaders were in the state capital Lucknow for closed-door meetings with UP ministers. The 49-year-old leader also met President Ram Nath Kovind.
"The Prime Minister holds Yogi Adityanath in high regard. His governance model is excellent and he has a clean image. There is no question of him being changed. The UP CM was last in Delhi on a two-day visit on January 6-7 when he also met the President, the PM and Amit Shah—he plans his trips like that," a government source told News18.
The chief minister’s visit that saw the BJP brass repose faith in him and his extensive meetings on the party’s poll strategy for the UP election should end the speculation around his leadership, a BJP source said.
The party is sure of winning a second successive term under Yogi's leadership, something that BJP has never done in India’s most populous state.
"The CM has returned to Lucknow even stronger. There are some vacant spots in the state cabinet and the CM will exercise his prerogative of filling those berths, keeping in mind the regional and caste equations... some re-jig in boards and corporations is also possible," an aide of the chief minister said over the phone from Lucknow.
Also read: Yogi Adityanath remains an unchallenged leader of BJP in UP, organisational and Cabinet changes likely before 2022 elections
Modi to visit Lucknow
In yet another sign of affirming faith in Yogi, Modi is expected to visit Uttar Pradesh soon to inaugurate the Purvanchal Expressway that links Lucknow to Ballia and also lay the stone of the Jewar International Airport in Noida.
The CM has been advised to line up more development projects that can be rolled out ahead of the assembly election, speed up the implementation of central schemes and also the pace of Covid-19 vaccination, sources said.
The chief minister, sources said, strongly defended his handling of the coronavirus situation, terming it a successful model.
Sources said the PM even praised him for his handling of the outbreak during their meeting on June 11 at a time when Yogi has come under fire for his alleged mishandling of the second coronavirus wave.
The opposition has accused the UP government of failing during the health emergency as several reports emerged of bodies floating in the Ganga or buried on its banks.
A government source also pointed to Modi praising Yogi on May 21 while speaking to doctors and frontline workers of Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency.
"When efforts are genuine and leaders understand people's problems, the work done on the ground shows. I remember how thousands of encephalitis deaths happened earlier in West UP and Yogi Adityanath as MP even cried in Parliament over the issue. But once he became CM of UP, he started a campaign and succeeded in a big way in saving the lives of children," the PM said on May 21.
On talks of tension over former PMO officer AK Sharma not finding a place in the UP cabinet, sources in Lucknow said no such demand had been made by the Centre.
"Sharma was made an MLC. All positions from UP— be it Rajya Sabha nominations or senior positions in the UP Cabinet—there has never been any conflict between the views of the Centre and the UP government," sources said.
UP Minister Sidharth Nath Singh reacted sharply to reports that Yogi had told the RSS, the ideological parent of the BJP, that it was better he resigned if his key portfolios were to be given away to others.
"Such reports are hawa hawai, have no basis and are far from the truth," Singh said, terming a report about the bifurcation of the state as false too.
Shah’s meetings with key UP allies Apna Dal and Nishad Party were likely an exercise to gauge their expectations from the NDA alliance. Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel and Nishad Party’s Pravin Nishad made a case for their inclusion in the Union Cabinet, sources said.