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East or west? Where would the new UP BJP chief emerge from

The new UP BJP president would be anointed in a couple of weeks' time. It could be even before that. But the big question is not who the new chief going to be. It's more about from which direction the new chief of the state BJP unit is going to emerge: east or west? Manish Chandra Pandey reports.

lucknow Updated: Feb 22, 2010 21:44 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey

The new UP BJP president would be anointed in a couple of weeks' time. It could be even before that.

But the big question is not who the new chief going to be. It's more about from which direction the new chief of the state BJP unit is going to emerge: east or west?

Kalyan Singh was last BJP chief from western UP. That was in 1987. Ever since, all the state BJP presidents have been from eastern UP.

Ever since, the party's graph has been falling. On Monday as the UP BJP president Ramapati Ram Tripathi spoke about the BJP plans to make its February 25 rally cum protest march in Lucknow successful, there were many who leaders who felt that such show of strength would mean little without having a mass leader at the helm of affairs.

The reason why many here are rooting for a president from the western part of UP is because despite having successive presidents from eastern UP, the party has continued to perform badly in successive elections in the region as well as overall.

Perhaps that is why, immediately after the party's loss in 2009 elections, BJP legislature party leader Om Prakask Singh had first made the suggestion that the party might consider having a president from the west.

Later in a letter to all party leaders Singh had again made the demand, while detailing the reasons for the party's loss.

Singh told HT, "I had indeed made the suggestion. Let's see what happens this time."

Prominent names in the fray from western UP include people like Santosh Gangwar, a Kurmi leader and a six-time MP from Bareli, Dharam Pal Singh, a former UP minister and an OBC (Lodh) leader, who despite having Kalyan Singh as his mentor, has remained loyal to the BJP.

Some in the BJP here are also pitching in for Varun Gandhi, the firebrand young MP from Pilibhit. "He is immature but then what have mature leaders achieved anyway? Varun is from the west and he can surely galvanize the party cadre. And if you want someone from the east, Yogi Aditya Nath, the maverick, firebrand MP from Gorakhpur could be considered. Both are young and confident," said a party leader. But, then Yogi Aditya Nath, his supporters say, would not be interested in taking up the responsibility and Varun Gandhi has the "uncanny ability of putting his foot in his mouth."

Trying their for the top party post from eastern UP are Jai Prakash Chaturvedi, an MLC and Surya Pratap Shahi, the UP BJP vice president. Then there are leaders like Satish Mahana from Kanpur and Laxmi Kant Bajpai who are also in the race.

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi told HT, "I guess the national president Nitin Gadkari would soon announce his team. Much would be clear then. UP certainly is among those states on his priority list."