The BJP Parliamentary Board will meet on Sunday evening to discuss the probable Chief Ministers in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where the party has swept to power….A special report by Brajendra Nath Singh for Asian Lite News
The board will also work on a strategy to take office in Goa and Manipur where the Bharatiya Janata Party has propelled itself in the game of government formation though it has failed to get majority. Goa BJP MLAs have urged party President Amit Shah to make now Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar the next Chief Minister.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has not spoken publicly yet on the BJP’s showing in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, will attend Sunday’s meeting.
The Parliamentary Board has 12 members including Modi, Amit Shah, senior cabinet ministers such as Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj as well as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
In Uttar Pradesh, half-a-dozen names have cropped up for the post of Chief Minister including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, state BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, union ministers Manoj Sinha and Santosh Gangwar as well as Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath.
In Uttarakhand, former state BJP chief Trivendra Singh Rawat, National Executive member Satpal Maharaj and Pithoragarh MLA Prakash Pant, the state’s first Speaker, are strong contenders for the Chief Minister’s post.
BJP sources say there are two views in the party on Uttar Pradesh.
One is that an OBC leader should become the Chief Minister keeping in view the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Another opinion is that party should go for an upper caste leader as Modi himself is an OBC/MBC and his charisma is still working.
If the party decides to pick an OBC or MBC, Maurya may be the frontrunner. He is from a Most Backward Caste and a BJP MP from Phoolpur in Allahabad.
Maurya led from the front in the 2017 assembly polls in India’s most populous and politically significant state.
BJP President Amit Shah, informed sources say, designed the campaign strategy in such a way that Maurya’s name as the state unit chief pepped up the MBC voters.
Maurya, however, said the BJP was a “democratic party where things such as these are discussed by the Parliamentary Board”.
“Till now, I was given charge of the state unit and marshalling the forces for an electoral win. I have discharged that job to the best of my abilities.”
Another name doing the rounds is of Manoj Sinha, the Union Minister of State for Railways. He is from Poorvanchal where the BJP is focussing big time.
Known as “amicable” and a quiet worker, he has endeared himself to the party leadership. But many feel he may not make it to the finishing line, since the BJP High Command’s tilt is towards an MBC or Other Backward Class.
Having decimated the Bahujan Samaj Party and hugely dented the Samajwadi Party in the OBC vote bank, the BJP is trying to strike a balance between Dalits, OBCs and MBCs as well as the Brahmin-Thakur voters who have long supported the party.
A vocal section feels that firebrand leader Yogi Adityanath should be the Chief Minister. But his style of aggressive Hindu nationalist politics don’t make him a favourite beyond the Gorakhpur belt.
Dinesh Sharma, the Lucknow Mayor and the BJP national Vice President, is in the reckoning too. A Brahmin face is something the party needs, a state BJP leader said.
The name of BJP spokesman Srikant Sharma, who contested from Mathura, is also being thrown up. But there is also a feeling that “after the Akhilesh disaster”, the BJP will not toy with a young person in a big state who has not even held any office so far outside of the party.
“All the equations would be discussed by the Parliamentary board,” a BJP leader told IANS.
In addition, the board will also declare the names of observers who will hold meetings with elected members of assemblies in the respective states.