Surya Pratap Shahi, an old warhorse from east UP would the new BJP chief in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP's Parliamentary Board, which initially appeared to be in two minds, after CP Thakur, was appointed chief of party in neighboring Bihar, finally cleared Shahi's name on Wednesday afternoon.
Among other things, the 58-year old Shahi would now have the onerous responsibility of preparing the blueprint for party's revival in UP, ahead of 2012 assembly elections.
A three-time MLA, who also held key portfolios of Home and Excise department during the BJP regime in UP, Shahi, received generous support from Arun Jaitley, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha who reportedly backed Shahi's claim all the way.
Still, with a section in the party, lobbying for a president from west/central UP, Shahi faced some anxious moments as Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma, Dharam Pal Singh, former UP minister and an OBC (Lodh) from west UP and Rajendra Agarwal, the MP from Meerut mounted a spirited challenge.
Immediately after his name was announced, Shahi told HT from Deoria on phone that he would attempt to galvanize the party in UP by ensuring that leaders take to the streets along with party workers on issues of concern to the common man. "There is considerable resentment against the state government and I would surely try to use the public anger against the BSP government in favor of the BJP," Shahi said.
Asked whether he would embark on an extensive tour of the state to establish a connect with the masses, Shahi said, "All these things including a rath yatra would be decided in consultation. We would take decisions by consensus."
Though Shahi, a bhumihaar by caste and a die-hard RSS man, commands respect from party workers, his detractors claim he made it to the top post, simply because the party couldn't find anyone better.
"He is good man but I do not think he can inspire workers. This time the party should have opted for a president from west UP, which hasn't seen a BJP president since 1987. If you continue to have presidents from east UP, time would come when virtually every second BJP man in east UP, would have been a BJP president," said a former UP minister.
Outgoing BJP president Ramapati Ram Tripathi said, "Shahiji is a senior leader and we are sure that the BJP would emerge successful under him."