This Article is From Mar 18, 2017

BJP, RSS Tussle Behind Delay In Picking UP Chief Minister? Suspense Grows

BJP, RSS Tussle Behind Delay In Picking UP Chief Minister? Suspense Grows

A tussle between top BJP and RSS leadership has delayed the UP Chief Minister decision, sources say.

Highlights

  • Sources say top BJP, RSS leaders still in talks over UP chief minister
  • RSS not too keen on Manoj Sinha, BJP's first choice: Sources
  • Decision is expected today, swearing-in tomorrow
Lucknow: Is the delay in the selection of a Chief Minister for Uttar Pradesh due to a tussle between the top leadership of the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh? Top sources indicate, since last night BJP president Amit Shah has been holding parleys with the senior RSS leadership on the issue. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Shah were in favour of Manoj Sinha, junior rail and telecom minister, it seems the RSS wants someone who shares deeper links with it. Unconfirmed reports say that there were four names under discussion last night between the RSS and the BJP. Manoj Sinha, BJP's UP chief Keshav Maurya, lawmaker Yogi Adityanath and Home Minister Rajnath Singh. While Mr Maurya and the other two were ruled out by BJP, sources say the narrative seems to have changed after the RSS stepped in and pushed for a say.

A senior BJP leader indicated that the RSS is keen to get someone like Rajnath Singh as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. Mr Singh is close to the RSS and has held the post in past.

In January last year, ahead of the state election, Mr Singh had declined an offer from the BJP president to be the face of the party in Uttar Pradesh. But now it seems the BJP top brass is wary of making Rajnath Singh the Chief Minister of India's politically most crucial state because he may emerge as a separate power centre.
Since morning, there have been hectic consultations between the BJP and the RSS over the issue. While Manoj Sinha dashed down to Varanasi and offered prayers at two famous temples in the city adding to the speculation around his name, the other aspirant Keshav Maurya met PM Modi and Amit Shah.

Interestingly, Yogi Adityanath flew down to Delhi from Gorakhpur and met the Prime Minister too. Sources however say that the meetings were to convince the two leaders to bury their claims and back the leader who they will pick. Meanwhile Mr Sinha tried to calm speculation as he said, "The BJP legislature party and the parliamentary board decides the Chief Minister. I'm not in the race."

Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu also said a decision would only be announced after a meeting of the party's UP legislators at 4 pm. Mr Naidu is one of the observers from the party's central unit, along with national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, who will attend the meeting.

The lack of information has created a vacuum. Outside the party office in Lucknow, supporters of Mr Maurya and Yogi Adityanath raised slogans in their support.

Picking the right person for UP's top post is crucial for PM Modi's bid to win a second term at the centre in 2019. PM Modi and Amit Shah, sources said, want someone who will be acceptable to all the different social groups and communities that have voted for the BJP, so that the party can retain their loyalty. They also want a proven administrator who can tackle UP's infamous law and order problem and further PM Modi's development agenda in the country' most populous state.

A grand show of strength is planned at the oath ceremony in Lucknow on Sunday with PM Modi, Mr Shah, many union minsters and BJP chief ministers attending. The event will be held at the sprawling Smriti Upvan complex near the Ambedkar Memorial in Lucknow.

Save that he is from the general caste and not a backward caste or Dalit leader - groups that joined the BJP's support base in this election - Manoj Sinha checks all other boxes. An MTech from Benares Hindu University, he is recognised for a strong ability to connect with masses, especially rural. He belongs to the Bhumihar Brahmin caste and is considered a firm administrator.

Mr Maurya is a leader of the Most Backward Castes or MBCs who played an important role in the BJP's win. But the party worries about the many cases he faces.

It's been a week since election results in five states were announced and the BJP's delay in naming a chief minister for UP is in deep contrast with the swiftness with which it acted in Goa and Manipur, states where it is not even the largest party, but has managed to install its chief ministers. In Goa, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has already won a trust vote.
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