BJP to pick UP chief minister on Saturday

RSTV Bureau
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign rally in Gonda district on 24 February 2017.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing an election rally in Gonda district on 24 February 2017.

A week after the BJP won Uttar Pradesh assembly polls by more than three-fourth majority, the newly elected party MLAs will meet in Lucknow on Saturday (March 18) to elect their legislature party leader, thereby zeroing in on their chief ministerial candidate.

“Party’s central observers – Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav – will be present at the meeting on Saturday at 5 PM,” UP BJP General Secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak told PTI.

It’s been a week since the BJP top brass has been mum on who from the party lead Uttar Pradesh. Several names began doing the rounds since BJP along with its allies stormed to power with a whopping 325 seats in the 403-member House.

Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Manoj Sinha and state BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya are being tipped to be the frontrunners for the CM’s post.

Rajnath Singh, a former UP chief minister, is probably the tallest BJP leader in the state, while Sinha, an upper caste Bhumihar, too has considerable administrative experience.

Maurya, who had helped consolidate non-Yadav OBC votes in the party’s favour, is said to be in the good books of BJP chief Amit Shah.

Another probable is Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, who has strong links with RSS.

Sources say the party is being extra cautious, keeping in mind the next Lok Sabha election in 2019 as Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha and is extremely important in the BJP’s scheme of things.

Party insiders said the overwhelming mandate has posed a fresh challenge for the BJP to meet sky-high expectations.

According to sources, the caste calculus, meticulously stitched by BJP chief Amit shah and his team, which helped the BJP win, is a major consideration for deciding on the next Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

There are talks that if the chief minister is made from one community, a deputy chief minister can be chosen from another community to maintain balance between the forward castes as well as non-Yadav OBCs who heavily voted for the party.

(With inputs from PTI)