The suspense over the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh is expected to end at the BJP legislature party (BJPLP) meeting to be held in Lucknow on Saturday.
The declaration of a new leader, in the presence of Union minister Venkaiah Naidu and party general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, will coincide with the party’s victory day celebration on that day.
The BJP’s incumbent legislature party leader, Suresh Khanna, on Thursday confirmed the news about Saturday’s meeting of the party’s newly-elected lawmakers.
An indication of who would be chief minister would come via Uttarakhand, where the legislature party would meet on Friday to decide the new CM of the hill state.
In Uttarakhand, Prakash Pant and Trivendra Singh Rawat are in the race.
“If Pant gets the nod, it would mean that chances of Union home minister Rajnath Singh being persuaded to take up the UP assignment will brighten considerably. If Rawat is picked as CM, it would indicate that Rajnath ji isn’t the likely CM in UP,” a source told HT.
“If Rajnath ji is coming to UP, the party might not appoint deputy chief ministers, as possibly might be the case if he refuses to return to state politics,” the source said.
After Rajnath Singh, the other hot favourite appears to be Union minister Manoj Sinha, who is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Manoj ji would gel well with everyone from Modi ji to Rajnath ji. He is close to the RSS, of which some other leaders, including Ram Lal, the BJP general secretary (organisation), are tipped to be in the race. But I would say it’s either Rajnath ji or Manoj ji,” a senior BJP leader said.
Earlier on Thursday, the possibility of Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya making it as CM receded following party chief Amit Shah’s statement that Maurya would decide on the “new CM”.
“UP’s big win has thrown up bigger challenges. There are 100-odd turncoats who have been elected on BJP ticket. Many of them wouldn’t be aware of the BJP’s philosophy. To do justice to the mandate, the BJP would require a mature leader,” a party leader said.
“That’s why Rajnath ji would still be in the BJP’s plan But if it’s not him, then it would open a gamut of possibilities – from Manoj Sinha, a Bhumihar, three Sharmas – Dinesh, Shrikant and Mahesh -- or any of the RSS men,” he said.