Uttar Pradesh CM likely to be named today after BJP MLAs’ meet

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Preparations have begun in the state capital for Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony at the Kanshiram Smriti Upvan.

New Delhi: The much-awaited name of Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh might be announced on Saturday when the newly-elected BJP MLAs meet in Lucknow to elect the legislature party leader.

Top leaders have said they were not in the race for the top job in the state, whose importance for the BJP for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections cannot be overstated. It can be expected that the top BJP leadership will keep a very close watch on the party and government in UP in the months leading up to the general elections.

Union minister of state Manoj Sinha took the lyrical route on Friday to say he was not a contender: “Naa, mujhe kisi race kaa pata hai, naa main kisi race main hoon (Neither do I know about any race [for CM], nor am I in any race).”

Other names being mentioned for the top post are Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma, MLAs Suresh Khanna and Satish Mahana and state unit chief Keshav Maurya.

Dark horse might also emerge as CM

Mr Maurya, an OBC leader, who had checked into hospital a couple of days ago, said, “Whatever is my responsibility as the party’s state unit president, I will fulfil that.” He was asked about party president Amit Shah’s remark that he had given Mr Maurya “the responsibility to select the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.” After these remarks, speculation was rife that Mr Maurya’s name was out of the race for CM.

Earlier this week, Union minister Rajnath Singh replied “Ram Ram” when asked if he was headed to UP. “These discussions are futile and unnecessary,” he had said.

Some media reports said Mr Rajnath Singh’s security team had gone to Lucknow. The home minister, several leaders have said, is a natural contender due to his profile and vast administrative experience. Speculation is rife that a “dark horse” might also emerge as the Chief Minister.

Preparations have begun in the state capital for Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony at the Kanshiram Smriti Upvan. The BJP had bagged 325 seats along with its allies in the 403-member Assembly.

In a statement in Lucknow, UP Governor Ram Naik said, the “new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, along with his Cabinet colleagues, would take the oath on March 19 at 5 pm at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan”.

State BJP spokesman Rakesh Tripathi said the legislature party meeting would be held on Saturday at Lok Bhavan, the newly-constructed chief minister’s office which is adjacent to the state BJP office.

The party’s central observers — Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav – will be present at the meeting to elect the chief minister.

The swearing-in ceremony is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Amit Shah and other top party leaders, said official sources.

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