A minister of Uttar Pradesh government has said that the chief ministerial face of the BJP will be decided after the 2022 assembly elections, contradicting party sources who indicated recently that Yogi Adityanath would lead the party into the crucial assembly polls and there will be no rethink on this.
"When 2022 comes, we will win the election. After that whoever is sent by the Central leadership will be welcome," Swami Prasad Maurya had told reporters on Sunday.
Mr Maurya is a cabinet minister in Yogi Adityanath's government and holds the crucial labour portfolio. He had crossed over to the BJP a few years ago from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party.
Mr Maurya's comment came on the eve of a second visit to Lucknow by top BJP leaders from Delhi -- BL Santosh and Radha Mohan Singh -- for another round of meetings with party leaders tomorrow.
The two leaders were in the state capital two weeks ago amid intense speculation over alleged discontent with the Chief Minister and rumours of a big reshuffle in both party and the government.
But the BJP made it clear that Yogi Adityanath -- one of the party's most prominent faces -- will lead it in the next year's elections. The party also explored other avenues of course correction -- including a reshuffle in the state cabinet and import of leaders from other parties. The cabinet expansion is yet to take place.
The BJP fought the 2017 polls without a Chief Ministerial face, projecting instead the image and popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Not many had expected the party leadership to name Yogi Adityanath -- one of the most prominent right-wing leaders -- as the Chief Minister.
The former MP from Gorakhpur does not have roots in either the BJP or its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Several questions have since been raised over the style of his governance, even within his own party.
Sources in the BJP have said replacing Yogi Adityanath so close to the assembly polls is out of the question and that he is their best bet for victory in the upcoming elections.