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Ahead Of UP Polls, PM's Aide To Get Big Role Amid Dissent In BJP

AK Sharma, known to be PM’s confidante, may be given an important role in the UP government

Highlights

  • Ex-bureaucrat close to PM to be given role in UP Cabinet: Source
  • The state cabinet expansion likely this month, say sources
  • BJP chief JP Nadda likely to visit UP next month

New Delhi:

The BJP has ruled out any change in the government or party leadership in Uttar Pradesh, dismissing speculation that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s job may be in trouble over his government’s Covid handling, but the cabinet will have new faces with months to the UP polls next year. Former bureaucrat AK Sharma, known to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s confidante, may be given an important role in the UP government, BJP sources say.

Yogi Adityanath will continue as Chief Minister and Swatantra Dev Singh as BJP’s UP president and the party will contest next year’s election under their leadership, the sources asserted, rubbishing talk fueled by a two-day review meeting held by national BJP leaders in UP capital Lucknow.

Despite the buzz, there was never a real possibility that Yogi Adityanath – the BJP’s star campaigner and one of its top leadership faces – would be replaced. But a cabinet expansion is likely this month and new ministers will be picked with caste and regional equations in mind, sources say.

The decision was taken after the review by senior BJP leaders BL Santosh and Radha Mohan Singh, described as an “extensive feedback exercise” by party leaders.

Similar feedback was also received by the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which has reportedly flagged concerns internally about the criticism and attacks heaped on the UP government ahead of polls that will also have a bearing on the 2024 national election.

RSS General Secretary Dattatreya Hosbole had also taken feedback during his trip to Lucknow weeks ago and his interaction with state BJP and RSS leaders.

It was based on Mr Hosbole’s feedback that the two BJP leaders were sent to Lucknow.

The team met with the Chief Minister, senior party leaders, ministers and MLAs and took the feedback to the central leadership.

Sources said for better coordination between the government and the party, regular meetings will take place.

BJP president JP Nadda is likely to visit UP next month to oversee efforts to repair the party’s structure and functioning.

On record, however, BJP leaders maintain that the Yogi Adityanath government has done well in controlling the second surge of Covid.

“In five weeks, @myogiadityanath’s Uttar Pradesh reduced the new daily case count by 93% … Remember it’s a state with 20+ Cr population. When municipality CMs could not manage a city of 1.5Cr population, Yogiji managed quite effectively,” BL Santosh tweeted after his return to Delhi.

The UP government’s handling of infections was slammed on social media, especially when images of bodies floating in the Ganga river or buried in shallow graves beside it generated headlines in India and abroad. There were reports of the party’s MLAs and MPs going public with their complaints against their own government.

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