NEW DELHI: Amidst the suspense over who would be the next chief minister of UP, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday termed speculation about his being the front-runner for the post as “faaltu baat” (unnecessary and futile)”. With many Union ministers feigning “complete ignorance” about the man who would wear the crown in Lucknow, the suspense is likely to continue, as the UP legislature party meeting date has not been fixed yet.
“It is completely unnecessary and futile,” Rajnath told the media outside Parliament when asked about him being the front-runner for the top post in UP. BJP chief Amit Shah had met Rajnath, popularly known as Thakur of Mirzapur, on Tuesday. The meeting appeared to have fuelled speculation about Rajnath shifting base to Lucknow.
However, BJP sources said Shah had regularly met with Rajnath during electioneering, as he was also a top campaigner in UP. Rajnath and Shah addressed over 150 rallies.
Even during the run up to the UP Assembly polls, the office of the Home Minister rejected speculation of Rajnath being projected as the CM.
“I honestly don’t know (who will be the next CM of UP),” quipped a top Cabinet minister. Another senior minister said the names doing the rounds “are wild speculations”.
“Trust me. Nobody knows the name of the next CM of UP. Only the PM knows the answer,” said a senior BJP leader.
UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya met Modi on Tuesday. However, party leaders argued that “not much meaning should be drawn from this, as it was a courtesy meeting”. Union minister Manoj Sinha is being seen favourably as a contender, as he was given the additional portfolio of telecommunications with independent charge in the last Cabinet reshuffle.
Another name doing the rounds is that of Lucknow mayor and BJP vice-president Dinesh Sharma, apparently close to Shah, besides being the in-charge for Gujarat.
First-time MLA from Allahabad (West) Siddharth Nath Singh, a suave TV face, also figures in the list of probables.
“There will be clarity on the issue shortly,” added the BJP functionary. Meanwhile, the guessing game regarding the CM continued in Uttarakhand as well. Though the BJP has four ex-CMs in its ranks, party leaders claimed none of them were in the reckoning.
While BJP State chief Ajay Bhatt was seen as the front runner for the post in the runup to the elections, his surprise loss from Ranikhet appears to have made the task difficult for the top brass.
“None of the four former chief ministers — B C Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Vijay Bahuguna — are in the race. Trivendra Singh Rawat, close to Rajnath Singh, and Prakash Pant seem to be the contenders. BJP national secretary Anil Baluni could not contest the elections, and it may go against him,” said a senior BJP functionary.
Though Satpal Maharaj is also being seen as a contender, his association with the Congress party is being seen as negative for him, sources in the BJP said.