Rajnath Singh to be BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in UP?

Lucknow:Union home minister Rajnath Singh could be the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming UP Assembly election. The decision could be formalised at the meeting of top party leaders at the BJP’s two-day national executive meeting in Allahabad from Sunday.

Sources in the party say Singh’s name could be announced as the head of the state election campaign committee chairman, which would immediately make him the driver of the party’s electoral bandwagon in UP. The party leadership is reported to have conveyed the plan to Singh and the latter’s acceptance is awaited.

Singh’s choice as the CM hopeful would solve the BJP’s long-standing dilemma of having a recognized face with a proven track record in UP to lead its electoral battle in this crucial state. Rajnath has been UP CM and knows the ins and outs of UP politics and its players like the back of his hand. Having been party president twice, he has the stature to stand up to opponents like BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Party leaders agree that in the present circumstances, Singh could be the best bet for the party. Earlier, the party has been known to mull over the names of Varun Gandhi, Smriti Irani, Yogi Adityanath and even the virtually retired Kalyan Singh.

However, none of them could measure up considering the challenge likely to be mounted by veteran foes like Mulayam and Mayawati. Besides, there is talk in the Congress camp of Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra leading the charge for the grand old party.

In such a scenario, the BJP obviously didn’t want to be seen as an also-ran with a second rung or relatively unknown leader spearheading its campaign.

Moreover, the party looks keen to repeat its Assam experiment where it used Union minister and prominent state leader Sarvanand Sonewal to emerge the winner. If Singh agrees to lead the campaign here, UP could witness a similar scenario.

Party leaders also point out that Singh could draw the sizeable Thakur votebank since there is no other leader from this aggressive and prosperous upper caste group who could challenge him.

Singh’s performance as UP chief minister also promises to stand him in good stead. Besides, Singh has good backing in the ‘Sangh parivar’ with his strong no-compromise posturing on ‘Hindutva’ and the Ram temple reconstruction issue.
With Agencies