Currently Shah is busy consulting senior party leaders and brainstorming over whom to announce as the new UP CM. According to reports, the party will name the new CM keeping in mind the 2019 general elections. The party is also apparently waiting for the floor tests in Goa and Manipur to go through smoothly before the new UP CM's name is announced.
The perspective CM would be one who appeals to the youth and has a progressive outlook. If speculations are to be believed, a big surprise is expected from the BJP cadre this time around.
Reportedly, a few frontrunners in the race for UP CM are UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister Manoj Sinha.
However, party insiders have also named 56-year old Satish Mahana, BJP's seven-time MLA from Maharajpur constituency in Kanpur district, as one of the probables. Another name which is doing the rounds is of 63-year-old Suresh Kumar Khanna, an eight-time MLA from Shahjahanpur constituency, who has not lost a single election till date.
As per rumours, RSS wanted Rajnath Singh as the chief minister, being a Sangh loyalist and the "tallest" leader coming from the state. But the problem in appointing Rajnath is that the post of Home Minster will fall vacant, prompting the need for a cabinet reshuffle, a cabinet in which already Arun Jaitley is burdened with dual portfolios of defence and finance. So, the chances of Rajnath Singh being named look somewhat bleak.
As for the firebrand leader Yogi Adityanath, the party would best avoid controversy by not naming him among the probables. Besides owing to his controversial statements of the past, naming him might not go down well with the Muslim community of UP which comprises of over 20 per cent of the state's population.
In the predominantly Hindi-speaking state of Uttar Pradesh, caste and demographics play a vital role in deciding on who will be the new CM. A political observer said, "Since, BJP has a thumping majority of 325 MLAs, it has no compulsion to select the candidate from a particular caste of region. It can go for a person who can take forward its development agenda, keeping 2019 elections in mind."
BJP chief Amit Shah would prefer to avoid a leader coming from a community which is present in a sizable number in the state. In such a case, minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha, a Bhumihar by caste becomes a strong contender for the post. Bhumihars form just 2.5 per cent of the electorate in UP. Sinha, a B.Tech from IIT BHU, is a close confidant of PM Modi and has been looking after the PM's constituency Varanasi on his behalf.
Many party insiders have hinted that the BJP's central leadership is in a fix weather to go for an upper caste leader or to pick someone from the backward caste, as either choice could prove to be counterproductive.
So, in the present scenario a "caste-neutral" candidate seems to be the party's choice. In this "caste-neutral" category, two more names that crop up are of veteran leaders Satish Mahana and Suresh Kumar Khanna, both belonging to the Punjabi Khatri community which has negligible presence in Uttar Pradesh.
According to sources, Mahana was called to Delhi on March 11 to meet the party's Central leaders after the declaration of the election results. He also has strong connections with the RSS and is generally regarded as a leader capable of handling governance.
However, it is widely believed that the emphatic win for the BJP in the 2017 UP Assembly polls came through votes from non-Yadav backward castes. Notably, OBCs and Dalits account for almost 61 per cent of the state's electorate.
So, not naming a backward caste leader as the CM could cost the party dearly. In this category, state BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya perfectly fits the bill. Maurya is currently camping in Delhi to press for his candidature. However, the only thing working against him is the question mark over his capability of governing a large state like UP.
Hopefully, by tomorrow a clear picture will emerge putting to rest all speculations and our question `Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri?' being answered.
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