BJP today played down the buzz over Home Minister Rajnath Singh as its face for Uttar Pradesh assembly election, saying he has been a lead campaigner in most recent state elections and its ranks were full of capable leaders.
Speculation has been rife over who will be its chief ministerial candidate for the crucial polls and Singh, the last BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh, is being seen as a “natural” face by many due to his experience even though top party leaders have maintained a studied silence over the issue.
Party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi told a press conference, “We have many capable leaders,” parrying questions over the issue.
“Whenever a decision is taken, parliamentary board will convey it to you,” he said.
The party’s comments came on a day when Singh also insisted that there is no dearth of capable people in the party as he chose to downplay talks about him.
“UP mein kabil chehron ke koi kami nahi hai (There is no dearth of capable faces in UP),” he said in Lucknow when asked about BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 Assembly polls.
Party President Amit Shah had recently said it was yet to decide whether a chief ministerial candidate should be projected or not.
Singh in the past has said he was not keen on returning to state politics. What is though almost certain he will play a prominent role during the campaign.
Trivedi, though, pointed out that Singh after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah had campaigned most in Assam and Bihar polls as well.
Though its success in Assam has fuelled talks within the party that the formula of projecting a face will be repeated in Uttar Pradesh too, the lack of a candidate with appeal across the country’s most populous is a hindrance.
A BJP leader also pointed out that it has done poorly in the last three polls despite projecting a CM pick, Singh in 2002, Kalyan Singh in 2007 and Uma Bharti in 2012.
Bharti was not officially announced as a candidate and was part of a quartet, including Singh, Kalraj Mishra and Surya Pratap Shahi. But her OBC credentials and the party’s decision to task her with reviving the party in the state had created the impression of she being in charge of its campaign.
Many believe that the party needs to project a leader to counter Mulayam Singh Yadav-led SP and Mayawati-led BSP, two leaders with wide appeal.