Yogi Adityanath emerged as a most-sought after campaigner and was ultimately chosen as the CM.
Rumours travelling through political grapevines have a life of their own in the power corridors of Lucknow. But, the visit of senior BJP leaders from Delhi to the state capital and a series of one-on-one meetings with senior state government ministers seem to have settled one issue – that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath remains the unchallenged leader of the BJP in the state and will be leading the party into the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2022.
A tweet by BJP’s National General Secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santhosh on Tuesday night, praising the CMs “effective management” of the COVID-19 situation over the last five weeks, has virtually quashed all rumours about the change of leadership in the state. The BJP’s UP in-charge Radha Mohan Singh in fact termed such talk as a “figment of someone’s imagination.”
Both of them spent the last two days in Lucknow in closed-door meetings. All pointers indicate that Yogi Adityanath will continue to enjoy the full backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. The assessment at the Centre is that Adityanath is the party’s best bet in UP as he remains hugely popular there with his governance model, hard work on the ground and clean image earning him trust of the top BJP leadership.
But, some key changes both in the party unit and the UP Cabinet are on the cards. “A cabinet reshuffle has been pending and some fresh inductions could happen to balance out caste equations further, while some ministers may be brought into the organization to strengthen the party before the UP polls,” a minister in the UP government told News18.
The visit of Santhosh is also said to have given an opportunity to state BJP leaders to vent out their grievances to him and speak freely of the challenges before the party ahead of the 2022 state elections. But, no more should be read into it as everyone knows Adityanath remains the unchallenged leader, he said.
One senior Minister in the Centre did concede, on the condition of anonymity, that one reason for the BJP team to be sent to Lucknow were some “mixed reports'' about the COVID-19 situation and a concern if this was behind a setback of sorts in the recent Panchayat elections in the state and review preparations ahead of the assembly elections. UP will be the first major state to go to polls after the devastating second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
But, the handling of COVID-19 in the last one month by the CM, and him spending 26 days travelling across UP coinciding with a record drop in the number of cases as pointed out by Santhosh in his tweet, seems to have dented the criticism on this count. There had also been adverse statements by a few BJP legislators.
“This is more an issue of improving coordination between the organization and government. When you have over 300 MLAs, there will obviously be some who would be unhappy over not getting important posts or adequate attention,” a state BJP functionary reasoned.
Adityanath also remains the biggest state face of the party today, with other senior BJP leaders no longer a part of active state politics except Keshav Prasad Maurya. BJP in the last elections in UP had multiple faces to attract votes from all caste-bases, including Rajnath Singh, Kalraj Mishra, Manoj Sinha and Keshav Prasad Maurya.
But, Yogi Adityanath emerged as a most-sought after campaigner and was ultimately chosen as the CM. Rajnath Singh, as home minister then, was never inclined to come back to state politics as the CM, Manoj Sinha was recently sent to J&K as the Lieutenant Governor and Kalraj Mishra was sent to Rajasthan as the governor. Maurya continues in the UP government as the deputy chief minister.