Yogi's meeting with Amit Shah amid pre-election anxiety in UP
Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections early next year, state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. Adityanath is also likely to meet BJP chief JP Nadda and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. The development comes amid rumors of a leadership change in the state. Here are more details.
Adityanath met UP BJP chief, General Secretary yesterday
Adityanath met Shah at his residence in Delhi on Thursday evening. The meeting concluded after over an hour. Notably, Adityanath had held a meeting with UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh and General Secretary In-charge Sunil Bansal in Lucknow late Wednesday. The government claimed it was a routine meeting, but sources told India Today that Bansal had rushed in via a chopper.
Congress leader Jitin Prasada joined BJP yesterday
On Wednesday, Jitin Prasada of the rival Congress party joined the BJP. According to NDTV, Prasada, a popular Brahmin face, is expected to play a key role in correcting the optics of the state government, which is viewed by Brahmins as pro-Thakur (Adityanath's caste). The BJP has reportedly dismissed rumors of replacing Adityanath as CM. However, other changes are likely, sources told NDTV.
Party officials dismiss rumors of leadership change, cabinet reshuffle
Last week, BJP national Vice-President and Uttar Pradesh In-charge Radha Mohan Singh met Governor Anandiben Patel and Assembly Speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit in Lucknow. Singh later dismissed rumors of a possible cabinet reshuffle or expansion, although there are vacant posts in the cabinet. He also denied any plans to replace the CM. Singh had said that the meeting was a "personal" one.
Rumors predicted key cabinet roles for Modi's close aide
It was also rumored that former bureaucrat AK Sharma could be given major responsibilities in the cabinet. Sharma—a Gujarat cadre IAS officer—is a close aide of Modi and had served in the Gujarat CM's office during Modi's tenure between 2001-2014. He also served as an additional secretary in the PM's office. This January, he was elected to the legislative council as a BJP nominee.
Government facing criticism over COVID-19 response
The UP government has been facing criticism for its handling of COVID-19. The outbreak's deadly second wave laid bare the administration's unpreparedness. Visuals had emerged showing hundreds of bodies, many of COVID-19 victims, floating in the river Ganges, or buried in shallow graves along the river's banks. Several BJP MLAs and MPs had openly spoken against UP's COVID-19 response.
BJP already working on poll strategy: Report
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are due to be held in early 2022. Sources told CNN-News18 that the BJP has started working on its poll strategy already. It will conduct a strength and weakness analysis and prepare report cards for party leaders. The party had underperformed in the recent panchayat polls, seen as the "semi-final" before the Assembly elections.