New Delhi: Yogi Adityanath, a five-time parliamentarian seen as the BJP's hardline Hindutva face, will be the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the party announced on Saturday evening, exactly a week after it won a landslide mandate in the country's most populous state. Mr Adityanath will have two deputies in Keshav Prasad Maurya, the party's UP chief, and Dinesh Sharma, who has been Lucknow Mayor for many years and led the party's membership drive in the state.
- Yogi Adityanath's name began to do the rounds only on Saturday afternoon
- RSS vetoed Manoj Sinha's name for the post
- Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma will be Deputy chief ministers
"I am thankful to the party and PM Modi for considering me worthy of the post. I will take UP forward with his motto of sabka saath sabka vikas," Mr Adityanath said soon after he was announced the Chief Minister.
Yogi Adityanath, 44, who had flown to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier today, returned to Lucknow on a chartered plane and joined a meeting of the party's 312 new MLAs, where he was elected to lead them in the state legislature and be Chief Minister. He will take oath along with his ministers at 2.15 pm today at Lucknow's sprawling Smriti Upvan complex near the Ambedkar memorial. The BJP has planned a massive show of strength, with PM Modi, BJP president Amit shah, many union ministers and BJP chief ministers attending.
Announcing that the state's MLAs had chosen Mr Adityanath to lead them, senior BJP leader and union minister Venkaiah Naidu said he is "a distinguished leader who has been an MP multiple times and is extremely qualified for the job. When his name was proposed all MLAs agreed that he would be Chief Minister."
The party's focus, the minister said, was, "Vikas Vikas, Vikas, Vikas (development)."
Former cricketer Chetan Chuahan, who is the new BJP legislator from UP's Amroha told NDTV, "It is the high command's decision and we abide by it." He said criticism that Yogi Adityanath is a divisive politician is a "figment of the opposition's imagination". "Yogi is a seasoned politician and he knows how to deliver," Mr Chuahan said.
The name of Yogi Adityanath, also the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple in eastern UP's Gorakhpur, began to do the rounds as the leading candidate for chief minister on Saturday afternoon. Sources said the party's ideological mentor, the RSS, vetoed the party's top choice for Chief Minister, union telecom minister Manoj Sinha. BJP President Amit Shah met RSS leaders in the morning today to finalise who would be Chief Minister.
Yogi Adityanath was chosen, sources said, because he was assessed to be the most popular leader among the BJP cadre in the state.
His supporters raised slogans this morning at the party office in Lucknow demanding that Mr Adityanath be named Chief Minister. They had threatened to rebel against the BJP before the assembly elections, angry that their leader was not projected by the party as presumptive chief minister. Yogi Adityanath had quickly distanced himself from the threats, warning his supporters of strict action.
The party has attempted a balancing act by appointing Mr Maurya and Mr Sharma as his deputies. Keshav Prasad Maurya is a leader from the Most Backward Castes (MBC) which played a significant role in the BJP's spectacular UP win this year. The party would like to retain the new MBC, Other Backward Castes and Dalit voters that it gained in this election as PM Modi looks at 2019 when he will seek re-election.
Dinesh Sharma is known to be extremely close to both PM Modi and Amit Shah. The 53-year-old professor of commerce at Lucknow University is non-controversial and is known as an affable person who gets along with everyone. He took the number of BJP members in UP from about a crore to more than 11 crores, which has made his stock soar and has also worked with Mr Shah on the BJP's campaign in Gujarat. Mr Sharma is also said to be backed by the BJP's ideological mentor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).