NEW DELHI: RSS did not interfere in the selection of Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, who was BJP's central observer for election of the state legislature party leader, said today.
Amid criticism over BJP going for Hindutva hardliner Yogi Adityanath as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Naidu said it was the legislators who decided on the leader and that is the system in the party. He asked the Opposition to be "graceful in defeat", accept the mandate of the people and give a "fair opportunity" to the new chief minister.
"It is the legislators under the Parliamentary party board that decide the leader. That is the system in the BJP. RSS never interferes or suggests any names (for the chief minister's post)," Naidu told PTI.
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The Union minister also maintained that after discussions with the elected MLAs, he had conveyed their views to BJP national president Amit Shah.
"Then, I had a meeting of the legislators. In that meeting, Yogi Adityanath's name was proposed by Suresh Khanna and nine others seconded it.
"All the legislators stood up and unanimously agreed to the name. So this is the decision of the MLAs of Uttar Pradesh which was approved by the central party," Naidu said.
His remarks come in the backdrop of allegations levelled by opposition parties such as BSP that BJP's wants to contest the 2019 polls not on the issue of development, but by "polarising the voters".
"That is why they have made an RSS man the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh," BSP supremo Mayawati said yesterday.
Adityanath took charge as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh yesterday after BJP's landslide victory in the state polls.
Naidu, who is a former BJP president, said that the chief minister has already declared that he would work with all sections of the society without any discrimination.
Taking a dig at the Opposition, he said they are not able to digest the massive mandate given to the BJP. "I appeal to them to be graceful in defeat and respect the mandate of the people and wait to see the performance."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that if Uttar Pradesh develops, then India develops and the focus is on "saab ka saath saab ka vikas", the Minister said.
"Adityanath knows the spirit of the Prime Minister's statement. Yogi Adityanath is above caste but, unfortunately, some people are attributing caste to him," Naidu said.
"So it is very unfair on the part of anybody including our political rivals to criticise him without giving a fair opportunity to the newly elected chief minister," Naidu said.
Stressing that Adityanath would "prove critics wrong", Naidu said the poll result is a "good sign" that politics is becoming inclusive.
"After seeing what happened in the state elections, I feel caste and religion based politics will become a matter of the past.... Now people want development, inclusive development," he said.
Asked about reports suggesting that Adityanath was made the chief minister at the behest of the RSS, Naidu shot back, "Who are these people to say? People of UP have given a mandate. Mandate is for BJP and BJP legislators have decided for Yogi Adityanath."
"Our opponents should have some patience. It was a watershed moment for BJP with 325 MLAs. Our opponents have not been able to digest this," the minister later told reporters outside Parliament.
"They are trying to divert the attention by criticising BJP," he said.
"Where is the RSS in this? Where is the VHP in this? Even RSS has clarified also."
Maintaining that RSS does not interfere in CM selection, Naidu said, "I have been party president and during my tenure nine to 10 leaders for state governments were selected.
"It is always the legislators and parliamentary board that decide the leader. I have some experience as party president."
"Never has RSS interfered or dictated to me... Yogiji's name was proposed and overwhelmingly all legislators and unanimously elected him as the leader. So where is the question of RSS dictating? he asked.
Defending Yogi's selection, Naidu said, "He is a five-time MP. Every time he won with more votes. Thirdly, he said after becoming CM that 'my motto is sabka sath, sabka vikas'."
Describing the CM as a "yogi" and above any caste and creed, Naidu said, "He has left his family 22 years back, working for the society, so how come you attribute any caste to him?
Spelling out the CM's action plan for the new UP government, Naidu said, "His efforts will be to take out UP from the 'Bimaru' tag. He has also said his agenda will be 'lok kalyan' (public welfare). He is going to implement the manifesto of BJP."