NEW DELHI: Was Yogi Adityanath the first choice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Uttar Pradesh crown? The question continues to haunt a number of BJP leaders, even after the firebrand Gorakhpur MP took command of India’s politically most crucial State, where the BJP has returned to power after a long gap of 15 years.
A section of party leaders claim Union Minister Manoj Sinha was the first choice of Modi. But the script went wrong, and Sinha ended up as the ‘Nitin Patel of UP’.
While Patel was touted to become the Chief Minister of Gujarat and succeed Anandiben Patel when a change of guard was announced earlier last year, at the last minute, Vijay Rupani emerged as the claimant to the chair. Now, this type of decision making by the Modi-Shah team is the “new normal” within BJP, say sources.
“After the TV channels began flashing Sinha’s vist to Kashi Vishwanath temple and speculated on him him being the next CM, State party chief Keshav Prasad Maurya became agitated. He got support from a number of ministers in the Modi Cabinet, including a heavyweight leader from the State. Maurya lodged his protest with Amit Shah, who was conveyed the message that there could be a problem at the venue of the legislature party meeting,” said a senior party functionary.
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Some of the questions haunting the party sources are: If Sinha was not the first choice, why did he take divine blessings from Modi’s constituency? Why did key aides of Sinha shift their base to Lucknow on Friday? A series of events on Saturday noon came as a twist in the plot, they claim.
Wasas Yogi Adityanath the first choice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Uttar Pradesh crown? He is already a union minister with two key portfolios. Sources claimed that the forenoon of super Saturday saw many moves taking place from different quarters. “Maurya teamed up with the Yogi, who in turn reached out to top brass of the RSS. The mentor of the BJP had spearheaded the campaign to wrest power in the state. Though Sinha enjoyed support of RSS leaders, they believed that the Yogi was suited the most to turn UP into a saffron laboratory on the lines of Gujarat,” added the sources.
Incidentally, Shah had a change of heart, sources said, and endorsed Yogi’s candidature, with the strategy in mind that the firebrand leader would keep the Hindutva pot boiling to sweep UP again in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “Yogi’s popularity across the state was a fact well known to both Modi and Shah, who did not want the party forming government with leaders squabbling in the open. It had turned into a distinct possibility. Sinha’s case got further weakened by the fact that he did not command loyalty amongst the MLAs. Modi being a pragmatic politician, sources stated, endorsed Yogi as UP chief minister, but asked Shah to get two deputy chief ministers as well to satisfy aspirations of Brahmins and OBCs in Dinesh Sharma and Maurya.
Mayawati said on Sunday that Keshav Prasad Murya should have been made CM. “His (Mauryas) name was put forward to garner OBC support. Had he not been made deputy chief minister, he would have got a heart attack. He has been betrayed and so have been the Brahmins, whose votes were taken by the BJP,” she said. Within the BJP circle, leaders are recalling the 2002 hard politics when Kalraj Mishra after getting the go ahead from the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to take oath as chief minister in UP had ended up being in the audience as Rajnath Singh within the span of a few hours became the chief minister candidate. History, indeed repeats, if the claims of the BJP leaders are to be believed.