Senior BJP leader Yogi Adityanath is mounting pressure on the party’s central leadership to declare him as the Chief Ministerial candidate for the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.

He is understood to have conveyed to the BJP top brass that he may find it difficult to continue in the party if his demand is not met. The BJP is yet to make up its mind on whether to have a chief ministerial face in UP or not. Indications are that in order to keep the party united, the BJP may choose not to have a CM face. 

The Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur, who has considerable clout in his region, was offered a Cabinet berth at the Centre during the last expansion but he had reportedly turned it down saying he just wanted to focus on UP.

Adityanath, 44, five-time MP, has been representing the Gorakhpur constituency ever since 1998. Before him, his father Mahant Avedyanath represented it for three consecutive terms from 1990 – 1998. Adityanath is the Mahant or head priest of the Gorakhnath Mutt. He is also the founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a social cultural and nationalist organization.

Adityanath’s demand has made BJP’s task a bit difficult and that is the reason why the leadership has not been able to take a final decision on whether to face the election with a CM face or go for collective leadership. In this backdrop, there are indications that the leadership may not project any Chief Ministerial candidate at all in order to keep the party united.

Interestingly, there is growing demand from the party workers that the party should declare a CM candidate, as was done in Assam elections, to have an edge. They cite that the other three rival parties – SP, BSP and Congress have a CM face and therefore BJP also should have it. Apart from Adityanath, Varun Gandhi is also in the race for UP CM candidate.

The source said the party is treading very cautiously on the issue. “The party has both the options. In case the party feels there should be a CM face, it will have to pick a person who is acceptable to the cadre as well as to the people of UP. We do not want a Delhi like situation where Kiran Bedi was declared CM candidate who was unacceptable to both,” he said.

Adityanath’s relationship with the BJP has not been smooth. In 2006, he organized a parallel meeting of Hindu Mahasammelan Gorakhpur when BJP was holding national executive meeting in Lucknow. In the assembly elections, he wanted his ‘own’ candidates to be given ticket. He had also defied the party’s whip on the Women’s Reservation Bill.

Sources, however, also point out that it may just be a ‘bargaining tactics’ as the BJP leader is fully aware of the fact that quitting the party has not worked in the past for a host of leaders, be it Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti or Babulal Marandi, all ex-chief ministers. These leaders left the BJP hoping that they would be able to make a mark in their respective regions, only to return after few years, except Marandi. Meanwhile, the party is all set to launch ‘Parivartan Yatra’ in poll—bound state, in reply to Rahul Gandhi’s recently concluded ‘Kisan Yatra’, which lasted for 26 days and covered 141 segments. In contrast, the parivartan yatra will start from 5 November from four corners of the state – Saharanpur, Lalitpur, Sonbhadra and Balia and will cover all the 403 assembly constituencies. The 55-day long yatra will be inaugurated by BJP national president Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Kalraj Mishra and Uma Bharti.

The party workers are also upbeat over the proposed visit of Narendra Modi take part in Dussehra celebrations in Lucknow on 11 October. The event has been organized by the Aishbagh Ramlila Committee.

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