Thursday 21 May 2015

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh leads race to be UP CM: Report

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Delhi/Lucknow: After the landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to declare as to who will the CM of the state.

India Today quoted sources in the BJP as saying that party president Amit Shah has met and talked to Rajnath Singh on the possibility of Union Home Minister going to Uttar Pradesh as CM.

The media house also quoted 'highly-placed sources' as saying that going by the mandate in UP, the chief ministerial candidate must be someone who can take all communities along with him.

At the same time, Shah has reportedly been consulting senior RSS leaders on the choice for CM in UP.

He is said to have had a detailed meeting with senior RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal, who is Sangh's point person for coordination with the BJP.

The secretary of the parliamentary board and Union Minister JP Nadda had said after its meeting on Sunday that Shah has been authorised to choose the next CM.

He said the central observers would consult the MLAs and report to Shah, who will take the final decision.

Meanwhile, 'Ram, Ram' was Singh's response to a journalist's query as to whether he was a contender for UP CM's post, remark that many interpreted as showing his unwillingness to return to UP politics, as per PTI.

Another name doing the rounds is that of Manoj Sinha (57), the Minister of State for Railways. An upper caste Bhumihar, he belongs to Poorvanchal, the area which is in the focus of the BJP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi constituency is also part of Poorvanchal.

Regarded as a dedicated and quiet worker, he is considered close to the top party leadership and many feel he has a fair chance if the party decides against showing preference for an OBC face.

A large number of non-Yadav backward castes voted for BJP in the Assembly election and the party's state unit president Keshav Prasad Maurya, an OBC, is a top contender for chief ministership.

After steering the party to a big win, 47-year-old Maurya has grown in stature. He is being credited with rallying the non-Yadav OBC voters behind the party.

When asked whether he was a contender for chief minister's post, Maurya, who met PM Modi on Tuesday, said," Speaking on this is beyond my jurisdiction."

On whether the CM should be chosen from among the newly elected MLAs or even a sitting MP could be appointed, he said," The decision will be taken by the BJP's parliamentary board."

Maurya, on being asked if the party's government will pursue construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, he said," All promises made in Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (party's manifesto) will be fulfilled."

Though firebrand five-term Lok Sabha member Yogi Adityanath (44) is the choice of the more vocal among the party workers, the seasoned ones believe that his brand of politics might not be beneficial for the party in the long run.

Also, his hard line 'Hindutva' may not help in carrying along all sections.

The name of amiable Lucknow mayor and party's national vice president Dinesh Sharma (53) is also being discussed. He is a Brahmin.

BJP's national spokesman Srikant Sharma, an MLA from Mathura who is considered close to party president Amit Shah, is also being mentioned in certain quarters, but many feel the 46-year-old lacks experience.

Some in the BJP say the leader of its legislature party in the outgoing Assembly Suresh Khanna (63) might emerge as the dark horse. Khanna, an upper caste Khatri, is an eight- time MLA. With RSS background, Khanna has a down to earth image and is a dedicated partyman.

Siddharth Nath Singh (53), the grandson of Lal Bahadur Shastri, who has won the prestigious Allahabad West seat is also being seen as a contender.

He is a national secretary of the party and one of its spokespersons.

Driven by the 'Modi wave', the BJP today stormed to power in UP after 14 years, securing three-fourths majority and demolishing rivals SP- Congress and BSP in a keenly-contested Assembly polls.

The BJP got 312 seats in the 403-member Assembly. Its allies Apna Dal(S) and SBSP bagged nine seats and four seats, respectively, taking the total tally of the combine to 325.

On the other hand, the SP won 47 seats while its ally the Congress got 7 seats.

The BSP won just 19 seats, finishing a dismal third.

Significantly, the Congress lost all the four Assembly seats in Amethi district, the pocket borough of Nehru-Gandhi family, with BJP bagging three of them.

The BJP-led alliance swept all the eight Assembly segments falling under PM Modi's Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi.

(With PTI inputs)

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