Pressure is mounting on the BJP leadership to announce a Chief Ministerial candidate for next year’s Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, following Congress’ decision to project Sheila Dikshit as the CM face. If sources are to be believed, Sultanpur MP Feroze Varun Gandhi’s name is now being actively discussed as a possible Chief Ministerial candidate within the BJP and also the wider Sangh Parivar.
His name was discussed, said a source, during the RSS meet in Kanpur this week. However, the RSS feels a decision on this should be taken later on.
Though the BJP maintains its official response that the “parliamentary board will decide on the matter”, there is a feeling of restlessness among the party’s state cadre, who want the leadership to come out with a face as has been done by the three major opponents—SP (Akhilesh Yadav), BSP (Mayawati) and Congress (Sheila Diskhit).
The BJP has been in a fix for a long time on whether to have a CM face or not; and if at all a CM face is needed, who it would be. Just before the BJP’s national executive meeting in Allahabad last month, Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s name was floated as the likely CM candidate. However, Singh, who is number two in the Union Cabinet, is not keen to return to state politics.
What comes in favour of Varun is his age; he is only 36 years old and can give a tough competition to the young CM of UP, Akhilesh Yadav.
The Sultanpur MP is also a well-known face in UP. He keeps travelling to different parts of the state.
He is quite active on the social media as well, and, in fact, is the top BJP leader in UP as far as following and presence in the “virtual world” is concerned.
The only handicap in Varun’s case is that he does not enjoy a good rapport with BJP top brass. He was removed from the post of national general secretary in 2014.
However, as a BJP leader quipped: “These things will have to be ignored in the larger interest of the party soon or else it will be too late.”
Other than Varun, the names that are under discussion are that of Yogi Adityanath, Uma Bharti and Manoj Sinha, among others.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra sought to play down Congress’ decision to announce a CM candidate by saying: “Knowing fully that the party is out of the race, the Congress has fielded someone who had retired from politics. The party, it seems, has found a scapegoat in Sheila Dikshit, who would be fixed after the debacle in the Assembly elections.”
Regarding BJP’s stand on CM candidate, he said: “BJP is a structured party. Its parliamentary board will take a decision at the right moment.”