Lucknow/New Delhi: Suspense remained on BJP’s chief ministerial pick in Uttar Pradesh as newly-elected MLAs were all set to meet here tomorrow to elect the leader, with Union Minister Manoj Sinha among the frontrunners.
“The new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh along with his Cabinet colleagues would take oath on March 19 at 5.00 PM at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan,” Governor Ram Naik said in a statement in Lucknow.
State BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi told PTI that the legislature party meeting will be held tomorrow at Lok Bhawan– the newly constructed Chief Minster’s office located adjacent to the UP BJP office.
Central observers – Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav — will remain present at the meeting to elect the chief minister. Besides Sinha, Home Minister and former state chief minister Rajnath Singh and state party chief Keshav Prasad Maurya are being projected as strong nominees for the post by their partymen.
All these leaders in their interactions with the media have played down their chances with Sinha turning poetic today, citing a verse which translates as ‘desires are treacherous, and change once fulfilled’.
“Naa mujhe kisi race kaa pata hai, naa main kisi race main hun (neither do I know about any race, nor am I in any race),” Sinha told reporters outside Parliament when asked if he was in the race to become the chief minister of the country’s politically most important state.
Maurya, who was discharged following his hospitalisation yesterday after he complained of uneasiness, is seen as a favourite if the party opts for an OBC face. He parried questions and said the state legislature party will decide on the chief minister tomorrow.
“Legislature party will decide who will be the chief minister. The oath taking ceremony will be on March 19 and all national leaders of the party will attend the ceremony,” he told reporters.
“If the name of the new Chief Minister is revealed before the meeting of the newly-elected MLAs, then the relevance and sanctity of the meeting would be lost,” he said
The Home Minister, several leaders said, is a natural contender due to his profile and vast administrative experience.
With the BJP leadership often springing a surprise with its choice of state leaders like Manohar Lal Khattar and Vijay Rupani, both of whom were not among the favourites to lead governments in Haryana and Gujarat, sources said a relatively lesser known leader cannot be ruled out.
The central observers will most likely inform the MLAs about the BJP top brass’ choice which will be subsequently endorsed at the meeting tomorrow.