New Delhi: The BJP Monday announced the new chiefs of its Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra units, which have been without presidents since their incumbents were appointed to the Modi government in May.
While Swatantra Dev Singh aka ‘Congress Singh’, the minister of transport in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, will serve as the president of the party’s UP unit, Chandrakant Patil, revenue minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government, will take the reins of the Maharashtra BJP.
They succeed Mahendra Nath Pandey and Raosaheb Danve, respectively.
Swatantra Dev Singh
Swatantra Dev Singh has roots in the RSS, and was among the prime contenders for the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s post after the 2017 assembly election.
He is known for his organisational skills, and has in the past handled crowd management and other arrangements for several rallies of PM Modi.
A two-time general secretary of the BJP, he has been appointed the state chief with an eye on the OBC vote, especially in the state’s Bundelkhand region. The decision, the party believes, may help the BJP reduce its dependence on Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel, who has a following among the Kurmis, an OBC community.
In 2014, he was tasked with micro-managing the BJP’s membership drive and he enlisted more than 1 crore members from UP alone.
During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he was made the in-charge for Madhya Pradesh, where he helped the BJP win 28 of 29 seats, months after the Congress edged past the party to form the state government.
Known to be honest, he still owns only one two-wheeler.
Dev started his career as a journalist in the newspaper Swatantra Bharat. His original name was ‘Congress Singh’, but he was eventually rechristened ‘Swantantra Dev’ by the Sangh, after the paper.
Patil is considered the No. 2 in the Fadnavis government. His appointment is believed to be aimed at the Maratha community, which was up in arms against the Fadnavis administration through much of its tenure over the quota issue.
Fadnavis is a Brahmin.
It is also said to be a message from BJP president Amit Shah that despite the extremely cordial relationship between Modi and Fadnavis, he has primacy in organisational matters.
At one point in time, Shah is said to have wanted to remove Fadnavis as CM and appoint Patil to the post. But Modi refused. Fadnavis further strengthened his hold by delivering a stellar result for the BJP in the state’s panchayat and Lok Sabha polls.
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