Union minister Maneka Gandhi projecting son Varun Gandhi as a potential Uttar Pradesh chief ministerial candidate has triggered a debate within the BJP about its face for the 2017 assembly elections in country’s most populous state.
A day after reports about Maneka’s comments in Pilibhit created a media controversy, BJP chief Amit Shah drove to her residence on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
Sources said that Shah requested Maneka not to comment on the issue until a decision is taken. Varun, BJP’s youngest general secretary, is a two-time Lok Sabha MP from UP.
A senior union cabinet minister said the issue of CM candidate was yet to be discussed at party’s platform, but admitted that the Sultanpur MP had emerged as a strong contender for the post.
“With a presidential type of elections being the order of the day, as it was witnessed during the Lok Sabha poll, selection of a the right candidate is as important as the strength of the cadre. We will take the right decision at the right time,” another member of the BJP parliamentary board told HT.
Union minister Uma Bharti too is seen as a contender for the chief minister’s post.
Party seniors see a compelling reason to project a ‘heavyweight’ who could face the resistance of an unrelenting old guard of UP unit.
There is also a general admission in the party that ‘tried and failed’ UP leaders may not be able to capitalise on the strong anti-incumbency faces by the Samajwadi party government and a repeat of 2012 —when BJP could poll just 15 % votes and win only 47 seats — could turn out to be a disaster.