LUCKNOW: While the suspense over Uttar Pradesh’s new chief minister continues, hectic preparations were on for the swearing-in ceremony of the new incumbent and his ministry to be held here at 2.15pm on Sunday.
The race for the CM’s chair, sources say, is now confined to two names – Minister of State for Railways and Communications Manoj Sinha and eight-time MLA Suresh Khanna.
A formal announcement is likely to be made after the Legislature Party meeting on Saturday evening in the presence of two central observers – Venkaiah Naidu and Bhupendra Yadav.
According to the Raj Bhawan sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has confirmed his participation in the swearing-in ceremony. Besides, chief ministers of other states and national leaders of various parties are also expected to take part.
If one goes by the party’s CM choices in the recent past in states like Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and even in Uttarakhand while keeping the PM’s UP discourse in mind, it emerges that Modi, in a clear departure from conventional politics, is out to bolster his development agenda with the 2019 general elections approaching fast.
Moreover, UP has been notorious for its ‘politically’ inclined bureaucracy. The previous SP and BSP regimes had their own sets of bureaucrats who were given plum posts regardless of their capabilities, says a senior IAS officer.
“Now, this culture is likely to end. Bureaucrats would be selected on the basis of merit rather than on their allegiance. Therefore, the CM also must be a person who could control this vast force,” the officer added.
Considering these, Sinha, if made the UP CM, will be seen as an appointment based purely on merit. Interestingly, Modi had praised him during a poll rally in Mau in February. It would also be because of his track record in the Central ministries during the past two-and- a-half years.
Suresh Khanna, the other contender, is an eight-time MLA from Shahjahanpur (urban), who served as a leader of the BJP Legislature Party in the outgoing House. He is a veteran who has served as a senior minister in the previous BJP regimes and is held in high regard for his political integrity.
UP state chief Keshav Maurya, credited with galvanising the party from a state of stupor, was also in the race, but party chief Amit Shah has virtually ruled him out. Home Minister Rajnath Singh and firebrand Gorakhpur MP Adityanath were also viewed as possible contenders, but now both seem to be out of the race.