Three days after the BJP Legislature Party made the surprise choice of Yogi Adityanath, a five-time MP from Gorakhpur, as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, party leaders have been asserting that it is a popular choice with both its national leadership and MLAs.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu, who was one of the Central observers appointed by the party’s Parliamentary Board to conduct the Legislature Party meeting in Lucknow, insisted that the ideological mothership of the Sangh Parivar, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had nothing to do with the choice of Mr. Adityanath.
“It is the legislators under the parliamentary board that decided the leader. That is the system in the BJP. RSS never interferes or suggests any names [for the chief minister’s post],” Mr. Naidu said.
“When I left for Lucknow from Delhi on Saturday morning it was with an open mind and no name suggested by anyone. After speaking to a large number of MLAs, the name of Yogi Adityanath was arrived at,” he said.
On Saturday, however, Mr. Adityanath had been brought to Delhi on a special chartered flight to meet BJP chief Amit Shah, after which his name came into contention. “He was in Delhi to be consulted on his views on the matter, whether he had any suggestions, just like other senior leaders pertaining to the State had been consulted,” said Mr. Naidu as an explanation. He asserted that Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, who had till then been considered the front runner in the race, had not been in contention.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, sources said, had been approached as a possible candidate, but he refused. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that if Uttar Pradesh develops, then India develops, and the focus is on sab ka saath, sab ka vikas ,” Mr. Naidu said.
No caste concern
“[Chief Minister] Adityanath knows the spirit of the Prime Minister’s statement. Yogi Adityanath is above caste but, unfortunately, some people are attributing caste to him. So it is very unfair on the part of anybody including our political rivals to criticise him without giving a fair opportunity to the newly elected Chief Minister,” he said. Describing the new Chief Minister as a “yogi” and above caste and creed, Mr. Naidu said, “he has left his family 22 years ago, working for the society, so how come you attribute any caste to him?”