The Uttar Pradesh politics is in a flux and it is holding up a probable Cabinet reshuffle at the Centre and in the State.
Playing hardball with the Modi-Shah dispensation – which is generally accustomed to having its way -- is Yogi Adityanath, who is at odds with the scheme of things that the RSS has in mind, in the run-up to the Assembly elections next year and beyond.
Adityanath on Friday gave the impression after meeting PM Modi and BJP President Jagat Prakash Nadda that he is safe in the saddle, is not being moved to the Centre – as is the buzz in some quarters -- and the BJP leadership is satisfied with his governance.
This impression was, however, dispelled in the evening when Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah drove down to the PM's house to discuss the feedback that Yogi has given on Uttar Pradesh, which goes to Assembly polls in seven months.
Nadda carried with him a detailed report of the party's national organising general secretary B L Santhosh on his detailed discussions with Yogi’s detractors and supporters among MLAs and MPs.
Nadda is of the view that destabilising Yogi at this stage, when the party has to prepare for the polls, can spell disaster if he brings into open the simmering undercurrent of rift in the party.
Prime Minister Modi, who had been already briefed by Amit Shah about his interaction with Yogi on Thursday, spent almost an hour, posing questions to the Chief Minister and giving his advice. Neither side, however, spelled out what transpired.
Yogi just tweeted in Hindi after the meeting: "Today, I had the privilege of meeting respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji and getting his guidance. I wholeheartedly thank the PM for taking out time for me from his busy schedule." The Prime Minister's Office tweeted a cryptic one liner: "Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath met PM Narendra Modi."
Yogi is unable to reconcile his differences with the top leadership because of the campaign mounted against him by his detractors; and so his primary instinct is to remain in the saddle and secure maximum Assembly poll tickets for his supporters, which gives him greater political leverage.
The chief minister gave a presentation to the Prime Minister on how he and his ministers had toured the entire state to scotch allegations of mishandling of the second wave of the pandemic; he assured him that the criticism of the government has completely died down.
He reportedly urged the Prime Minister not to heed the past reports, but go by the ground reality, an aide said.
However, the differences could not be reconciled, and Yogi has extended his stay in the national capital by a day on the pretext of seeking an appointment with President Ramnath Kovind on Saturday.
There is speculation about Cabinet reshuffle not only in Uttar Pradesh, but also at the Centre. Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel (40), an MP from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, may be inducted by Modi in his cabinet, while one of her party MLAs may be accommodated by Yogi in his government. She was also a minister of state in the Modi government from 2016 to 2019. She had a meeting with Amit Shah on Thursday and lobbied for inclusion of her party leaders in the state corporations and as district panchayat presidents in UP.
The buzz is that there may be a reshuffle at the Centre, too. PM Modi may accommodate Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is waiting in the wings in the Rajya Sabha ever since he defected from the Congress to bring down the MP government. Another leader tipped to join the cabinet is former Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal who had to make way for Himanta Biswa Sarma to be the CM of Assam. Sonawal was a union minister before becoming the chief minister.
In the current regime, a few key ministers and top leaders of the BJP have died, while allies like the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal have separated from the NDA, creating more than two dozen vacancies. Some senior ministers were allotted extra portfolios, and this has led to a few of them being overburdened, say sources. Many states are yet to be given proper representation according to their strength in the Lok Sabha. All this is weighing on the PM’s mind.