Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah had offered to make Home Minister Rajnath Singh the chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, informed sources said on Saturday.
Modi and Shah made the formal offer during the last budget session of Parliament, the sources said.
Rajnath Singh, who does not seem to be very attracted by the offer, has not officially communicated his response to the party leadership.
The sources spoke amid fresh speculation that Rajnath Singh was likely to be the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh where assembly elections are due next year.
“The reports about Rajnath Singh being projected as chief ministerial candidate are not true. In fact, no decision in this regard has been taken yet,” a BJP leader close to RSS told IANS on the conditions of anonymity.
The BJP leader, who is also an office bearer in the Uttar Pradesh unit, however, added: “But it is true that Rajnath Singh was offered the party’s chief ministerial candidature a month ago.”
The BJP leadership feels that Rajnath Singh, who was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh between 2000 and 2002, is still the only reliable face of the party in the state and can give a contest to both BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Sources close to Rajnath Singh said he was not ready to accept the offer as he was more interested in national politics.
Rajnath Singh said on Friday that reports that he would be the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh were “fictitious”. He added that he would fully back whoever was picked by the BJP for the post.
An aide to Rajnath Singh pointed out that the BJP fared poorly in the last three assembly polls despite projecting a chief ministerial candidate — Rajnath Singh in 2002, Kalyan Singh in 2007 and Uma Bharti in 2012.
The BJP leadership will brainstorm here on Sunday and Monday to decide a strategy that could bring it to power in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.