Manoj Sinha, widely cited in the media to be a strong contender for the chief minister’s post in Uttar Pradesh, has dismissed rumours that he is in the race.
“Neither I am in the race nor do I know of any such race,” Sinha, the union minister of state for telecom and railways, was quoted saying by news agency ANI.
Alongside Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, Sinha is said to be in the race for the top post as he is considered close to party president Amit Shah. Sinha, the MP from Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, was given the independent Communications portfolio in addition to the railways portfolio after he is said to have impressed the prime minister with his work. What is said to work for Sinha is his administrative record at the Centre, the fact that he is a passout from BHU in Varanasi and that he is amiable to party workers and colleagues.
The BJP, whose newly-elected legislators will meet on Saturday in Lucknow to elect the chief minister, has so far not given any indication on the post. Most leaders are of the opinion that Amit Shah and the prime minister will finalise the name which would then be ratified by the legislature party. The BJP, which registered an emphatic victory with three-fourths majority in the state, will have to carefully look at caste calculations while deciding the chief minister and the council of ministers.
While Sinha belongs to the upper-caste ‘Bhumihar’ community, Rajnath Singh is a Thakur. The forward castes are considered to be strong votaries of the saffron party. Also in the race is Keshav Prasad Maurya, the state president of the party, who is also the OBC face of the BJP. The party was successful in attracting the influential non-Yadav OBC votes in the recently-held elections.