After feedback sessions, top BJP leader leaves with two tweets praising Yogi’s Covid management, advises unity
Key Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leader BL Santhosh, currently serving as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national general secretary (organisation), completed a suspense-filled three-day feedback session with the Yogi Adityanath government’s ministers with two tweets and advice — both to the party and the government.
The tweets praised Adityanath’s handling of the Covid situation, signalling the BJP high command’s backing of the UP chief minister, under fire from the Opposition and some of his party lawmakers for alleged mismanagement of Covid. Santhosh’s advice, both to the party and the government, was to project a united front, people aware of the matter said.
While underscoring the need for unity, he also called for taking the achievements of the Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath governments to the people, they said.
The two tweets by Santhosh praising Adityanath’s handling of the Covid crisis were interpreted by Yogi supporters as proof of the chief minister continuing to be in the good books of the RSS and party top leadership.
The CM’s detractors emphasised that much shouldn’t be read into the tweets as the kind of one-on-one meetings that the top RSS leader holding a key post in BJP held over three days, were unprecedented.
“I haven’t seen such feedback sessions being held anywhere,” an old party hand said, emphasising that there was more to the one-on-one meetings than met the eye.
Before leaving for Delhi, BJP’s national vice president and UP in-charge Radha Mohan Singh described the Yogi government’s handling of the Covid situation as “unparalleled”.
Asked if changes were expected in the ruling party and some rejig of ministries might happen at the government level, a senior BJP leader, said, “The message of the central BJP leadership is clear. We can’t go into the elections looking like a divided house. That is the spirit behind those two tweets - first one praising Yogiji’s handling of the Covid crisis and then the second one praising him for vaccinating parents of children below 12 years.”
“In one of the meetings, when told that there was an issue of co-ordination, Santhoshji made it clear that it was not the time to play the blame game,” the leader said.
“With just about nine months to go for 2022 UP polls, any major shakeup is only a remote possibility. Maybe some strategic shifts might happen to streamline issues that may have come up during the three-day feedback sessions. But all stakeholders to the decision would be on board,” a BJP leader said, indicating that the party leadership was anxious to project a united front.
Soon after his two tweets, Santhosh, who extended his stay for the third day, decided to meet mostly Lucknow-based leaders, including ministers and lawmakers. They included law minister Brijesh Pathak whom he met for the second time and Mohanlalganj MP Kaushal Kishore.
Both Pathak and Kishore were among the first to flag issues of concern when the Covid second wave was at its peak. Pathak had slammed officials while Kishore had advised the government to prefer Covid management over panchayat polls.
“It was an introductory meeting,” Kishore said while Pathak said the discussions centered on how to take the party’s outreach mission – named seva hi sangathan – forward.
A meeting with party’s media coordination committee, too, was held with government spokesman and cabinet minister Sidharth Nath Singh and party spokespersons Harish Srivastava, Sameer Singh, Hero Bajpai, Alok Awasthi, Manish Shukla and a few others, including media in-charge Manish Dixit and co- media incharge Himanshu Dubey.
In the interaction, the party leaders were told to put forth the party’s views effectively before the people and to the media.
A BJP leader said, “The message is that like all political parties we, too, may have our differences. We can iron out our issues internally, but we go into the elections as one party. To me, it would indicate that unless the central leadership has a sudden change of heart, we are going into the 2022 UP polls with Yogiji as the chief minister,” the BJP leader said.
“A BJP general secretary (organisation) won’t publicly humiliate his own party government. If there are issues, they would be sorted out internally. He has also met MPs and MLAs now,” a BJP leader said.
Party’s rural focus, underlined by Santhosh first before the panchayat polls when he ordered holding of “gram chaupals” in Uttar Pradesh and again underscored after his review and feedback meetings, would continue.
“In five weeks, @myogiadityanath’s Uttar Pradesh reduced the new daily case count by 93 per cent. Remember it’s a state with 20+ Cr population,” Santhosh tweeted.
“When municipality CMs could not manage a city of 1.5Cr population, Yogiji managed quite effectively,” Santhosh added, after two days of feedback collection featuring one-on-one session with key ministers who were called at the BJP office in Lucknow.
The “municipality CM” jibe was in obvious reference to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had contested the recent panchayat polls in UP and has indicated plans to contest the 2022 assembly polls in the state. AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh has been active in the state, targeting BJP government’s handling of Covid and comparing it with Delhi’s Covid management.
“UP Govt led by CM Sri @myogiadityanath decides to vaccinate parents of children below 12 years .. A wise move considering the logic that if at all third wave comes, it may affect children more. Parents will be around to look after more safely,” he tweeted.