Elected unanimously; gets Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma as deputy CMs
Yogi Adityanath, the controversial mascot of hardline Hindutva, will be the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. In a move that surprised many, the 44-year-old five-term MP from Gorakhpur was elected the BJP legislature party leader at a meeting of the newly-elected MLAs, a week after BJP won a resounding three-fourth majority in the key Hindi heartland state, making a comeback to power after 15 years.
State BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, who was himself in contention for the top job, first announced Adityanath’s election. Maurya, the MP from Phulpur in Allahabad, will be the deputy chief minister, apart from senior BJP leader and Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who, along with BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, was present at the meeting as central observer for the election, said Adityanath’s name was proposed by Suresh Khanna, an eight-term MLA, and seconded by 10 others. Naidu said even after the proposal was made, he asked the 312 newly-elected MLAs if they wanted to propose anybody else for the post, but they
all backed Adityanath unanimously.
Naidu said that the Yogi then said he needed two deputy CMs to assist him in the gigantic task, following which it was decided that Maurya and Sharma would hold the posts. As the meeting was about to begin, an element of surprise gripped the venue when Adityanath reached Lok Bhawan opposite the imposing Assembly complex. Midway through the meeting, Sharma was asked to attend the deliberations.
The 45-year-old Yogi, who is a five-time MP from Gorakhpur, is the fourth chief minister of UP having roots in Uttarakhand, after first chief minister of UP Govind Vallab Pant, ND Tiwari and Hemvanti Nandan Bahuguna. The elevation of Yogi Adityanath, who has been a controversial figure due to his staunch Hindutva stance, can strengthen BJP’s ‘Hindutva’ establishment in the state, but might provide enough fodder to the opposition to attack the saffron party for ‘divisive politics’. The appointment comes after a week-long tussle in which many names were doing the rounds, including that of Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Manoj Sinha and state BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, among others.
On naming Yogi as chief minister, the BJP is not only trying to portray him as the mascot of the party’s agenda of development, but has also balanced the tricky caste equation in the state. While Yogi belongs to the Rajput community, Dinesh Sharma belongs to the upper caste, while Keshav Prasad Maurya hails from the OBC community. Sources in the BJP said Yogi’s selection is also seen as Prime Minister Modi’s thrust to the Poorvanchal region of eastern UP. The deprived region is acutely backward and it is here that the BJP’s development challenge will have to be met first. In that sense, the elevation of Yogi has definitely given reason for Poorvanchal to smile.
With inputs from agencies