Yogi Adityanath, the controversial hardline advocate of Hindutva, will be the 32nd Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He will be sworn in at 2.15 p.m. on Sunday.
Bringing an end to the suspense since the Assembly election results were declared a week ago on March 11, the BJP announced the five-time Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur as its Chief Minister-elect on Saturday after he was chosen leader of its legislature party.
The State will also have two deputy chief ministers — Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma — both of whom were also front runners for the top post. While Mr. Maurya is the BJP’s State president, Mr. Sharma is the Mayor of Lucknow.
A delegation of BJP leaders, led by Adityanath and BJP leader and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, later met Governor Ram Naik and staked claim to form the government.
The CM-designate also met the DGP and the Chief Secretary and discussed the law and order situation in the State. Sources said that in his address to party MLAs, Adityanath promised to implement the “Modi-model of development” in U.P.
He resolved that like Mr. Modi, he would not rest easily and would work tirelessly. “Na bhaitunga na bhaitne dunga” [neither will I rest, nor will I let others], a BJP leader quoted Adityanath as saying
While Adityanath, whose birth name is Ajay Singh Bisht, is a Thakur, Mr. Maurya is an OBC and Mr. Sharma a Brahmin. The balancing of castes is intended to guide the BJP’s future strategy in the State, especially in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Mr. Maurya’s nomination as the State president was made last year as part of the party’s efforts to extend its outreach among the non-Yadav backward classes.
While Adityanath is inspired by the Hindu Mahasabha and runs his own Hindutva militia outfit, the Hindu Yuva Vahini, in east UP, both Mr. Maurya and Mr. Sharma have a long and deep association with the RSS. Mr. Maurya, the MP from Phulpur, started his career as a VHP activist.
Mr. Sharma, a professor by profession, was promoted as a party vice-president and appointed in-charge of Gujarat, after the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Last year, he organised the Dusshera rally in Lucknow which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadyaya was close to Mr. Sharma’s father and often visited his residence in Aishbagh here.
Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu announced the names at the Lok Bhawan here after a meeting of the BJP MLAs and those of its two allies: the Apna Dal (Soney Lal) and the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party. The alliance secured 325 seats in the 403-member Assembly.
Mr. Naidu, who was appointed as central observer to the legislature party meeting, said Adityanath’s name was unanimously passed by a voice vote.
Mr. Naidu said senior party MLA Suresh Khanna proposed Adityanath’s name at the meeting, which was then endorsed by 11 others. The BJP’s “historic win” in U.P. was a “watershed moment” in the party’s history and established it as the “common man’s party”, Mr. Naidu told reporters during the official press briefing. He said the BJP’s sweeping win was a mandate in favour of development and good governance and against caste politics, religious vote bank politics and corruption.
Yogi Adityanath, who was seated beside him, did not speak to the media. However, Mr. Naidu said that during his acceptance speech after being elected leader, the CM-elect has said that since U.P. was a large State, he needed assistance in governing it and proposed the names of Mr. Sharma and Mr. Maurya as deputy CMs.
Mr. Naidu said he then rang up party president Amit Shah, who gave his consent to the proposal. Apart from Mr. Naidu, his co-observer Bhupendra Yadav, Rajya Sabha member Om Mathur, Union Minister Kalraj Mishra and Apna Dal leader and Central Minister Anupriya Patel were present on the dais.
Adityanath’s nomination came as a surprise to observers as Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Railways, was considered the frontrunner for the CM’s post till the very end. The CM and his Cabinet will take their oath on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah, along with the CMs of BJP-ruled States, are expected to attend the ceremony.
Party sources said Adityanath’s nomination would ensure that the polarisation in the State would be retained till the 2019 election as he enjoys a Hindutva image and is known for his provocative statements on Muslims.