There is “no dearth of leaders in Uttar Pradesh,” said Home Minister Rajnath Singh when asked about reports that the BJP plans to project him as the main face of the party in next year’s assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
The union minister refused to answer if he could be the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate. “Aise kalpnik prashn nahin poochhte, hum to ek jagah hain hee (Let’s avoid such fictitious questions…am already settled in one role,” he said when asked if he could be given the chance to be the chief minister.
Mr Singh, one of the most prominent BJP leaders from Uttar Pradesh, is likely to play a pivotal role in the party’s campaign for assembly elections to be held in the state early next year.
Sources say the BJP plans to project him as the face of the party to take on regional giants like Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati.
Mr Singh is likely to be given charge of the campaign committee in UP, the sources said, adding that the chief ministerial candidate, if at all the party will project one, will be decided later. Mr Singh, who has been chief minister of UP before, is not keen to essay that role again, sources said.
The party also has to get its caste equation right, crucial in UP politics. The projection of Mr Singh, who is a Rajput leader, could upset the party’s Brahmin voters, it is feared, and so a balancing act may be called for later in its choice of chief minister.
A discussion on Mr Singh’s role is likely on the sidelines of the BJP’s national executive meeting in Allahabad this weekend, which will focus on the Uttar Pradesh elections, slotted as a must-win by the BJP. The party hopes to extend its sweep of the 2014 national election – it had won 71 of UP’s 80 seats – to the assembly elections.