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Decision on new UP BJP chief soon, several names in contention

Union home minister and BJP national president Amit Shah will chair the meeting in which office bearers of various state units will be present.

lucknow Updated: Jun 13, 2019 11:23 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UP BJP,UP BJP chief,mahendra nath pandey
Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey’s (in yellow kurta) induction in the Union cabinet has set in motion the process for appointment of the new state president.(ANI )

A decision on appointment of the new president of Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Uttar Pradesh unit is likely to be taken at a meeting of the party in New Delhi on Thursday.

Union home minister and BJP national president Amit Shah will chair the meeting in which office bearers of various state units will be present.

UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey’s induction in the Union cabinet has set in motion the process for appointment of the new state president. The party is considering the names of various Brahmin, backward and Dalit leaders for the post, a leader familiar with the issue said.

“Along with caste, competence, suitability and seniority factors will be significant in the selection,” said a BJP leader.

To send a message to the upper castes, particularly Brahmins, the BJP might appoint a Brahmin as the state president.

Outgoing state president Pandey belongs to the Brahmin community, whose support played a crucial role in the party’s landslide victory in Lok Sabha elections. The party’s Brahmin leaders in the reckoning for the post include Gautam Buddha Nagar MP and former union minister Mahesh Sharma, Kannauj MP Subarat Pathak or former union minister, Shiv Pratap Shukla as the state president, the BJP leader said. The BJP leadership had appointed Pandey as the state unit president to strike a balance in the party’s upper caste support base consisting of Brahmins and Rajputs.

While chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a Rajput, heads the government, Pandey was made the head of the organization.

“The party leadership might repeat the same formula by appointing a Brahmin leader as the state president,” the BJP leader said. To win the support of the backward castes before the 2017 assembly election, the BJP had appointed a backward community leader Keshav Prasad Maurya as the party’s state president. The move paid off and the party won a landslide victory in the assembly elections.

Therefore, there is also the possibility that the BJP might opt for a backward leader as the state president to strengthen its hold over the community that constitutes 50% of voters.

Transport minister Swantra Dev Singh, a Kurmi leader and former youth wing president, is leading in the race for the coveted post. BJP state general secretary Neelima Katariya, state vice-president BL Verma, senior leader Babu Ram Nishad, state general secretary Ashok Katariya and panchayati raj minister Bhupendra Chaudhary are also in the race.

Among Dalit leaders, state unit general secretary Vidya Sagar Sonkar, Etawah MP Ramashankar Katheria and Jalaun MP Bhanu Pratap Verma are in contention. The BJP had won 15 of the 17 reserved seats in UP in the Lok Sabha election.

The BSP won two of these seats. By appointing a Dalit leader, the BJP will counter BSP chief Mayawati’s charge that the party is anti-Dalit.

The name of former union minister Manoj Sinha, who lost the Lok Sabha election in Ghazipur, is also doing the rounds for the state president’s post.

“Sinha is considered a hard working leader enjoys support of all the communities. He had launched several development projects in the constituency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appreciated his endeavour for development in the backward area of the state,” the BJP leader said.

First Published: Jun 13, 2019 11:23 IST