Lucknow: Amid signs of strain between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy, Keshav Prasad Maurya, top functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale and joint general secretary Dr Krishna Gopal — accompanied by the CM and his second deputy, Dinesh Sharma, visited Maurya’s residence Tuesday to thrash out their differences over lunch.
The meeting lasted over an hour. For the record, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders close to the disgruntled deputy CM maintained that the RSS leaders and Adityanath visited Maurya to offer blessings to his son, who got married earlier this month.
The meeting came about a week after Maurya suggested that Adityanath might not be the BJP’s chief ministerial face in the 2022 assembly election. “Only the high command will decide who will be the face of the 2022 assembly elections,” Maurya told a news channel.
On Monday, another UP Minister, Swami Prasad Maurya, said the party’s central leadership would take a call on the next chief minister.
“All possibilities are there post-Assembly elections in 2022. We can have a new face or Yogi Adityanath can continue as Chief Minister of UP,” he was quoted as saying.
BJP leaders in Lucknow sought to play down these remarks as innocuous and technically correct as the party usually doesn’t declare its CM face if there is already a CM leading the party’s campaign in an election. Yet, the two Mauryas’ remarks have created a flutter in the BJP circles, which was already abuzz with rumours about a change of guard in UP in light of reports about concerns in the BJP over Adityanath’s handling of the Covid crisis. The rumours, however, have been scotched by the party leadership.
The arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s confidant, A.K. Sharna, who resigned from the Indian Administrative Service to join politics in UP, has also kept the rumour mills busy for some time. Sharma, sent by Modi to Varanasi in April to oversee Covid management in his constituency, was appointed state BJP vice-president last week.
BJP national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh & UP in-charge Radha Mohan Singh are currently in Lucknow, their second visit in a month, to hold deliberations with BJP and RSS functionaries.
Santhosh’s meetings in Lucknow from 31 May-2 June had been followed by a flurry of meetings in Delhi. CM Adityanath made a two-day visit to Delhi, where he met PM Modi after holding separate deliberations with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda.
Talking about the meeting Tuesday, a senior BJP leader who is considered close to Keshav Maurya said. “What has Keshav ji got from the tussle? He wanted to be another power centre in the government, and Yogi is not making it happen, that’s why the differences between them grew. Now, maybe this ‘lunch diplomacy’ brings some changes in the scenario,” the leader said.