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Swatantra Dev Singh at exit door, decks cleared for UP BJP to get new president

The incumbent UP BJP president, Swatantra Dev Singh, has already completed his three-year tenure a couple of weeks ago, following which there has been a buzz that he has quit his post.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath along with state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh at Bhartiya Janta Party foundation day function in Lucknow. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav/File)

As the BJP leadership effected a change in the Uttarakhand party unit by appointing Mahendra Bhatt as its new president Saturday, the word doing the rounds in the ongoing training camp of neighbouring Uttar Pradesh’s party unit in Chitrakoot was that it was also going to get a new full-time chief very soon.

The incumbent UP BJP president, Swatantra Dev Singh, has already completed his three-year tenure a couple of weeks ago, following which there has been a buzz that he has quit his post. A section of BJP leaders has claimed that he has sent his resignation to party national president J P Nadda and is continuing in his position only till his successor is appointed.

A prominent OBC leader from the Bundelkhand region, Singh is also the jal shakti minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet. He was recently in the news when his junior minister Dinesh Khatik offered his resignation through a letter addressed to Union home minister Amit Shah, in which he alleged corruption in his ministry and that he was being ignored by officials because of his Dalit identity. BJP sources had then said that Khatik, the party’s prominent Dalit face in western UP with an RSS background, was hoping for a “larger role” during the party-led government’s second tenure and that the lack of coordination between him and Singh might have led to his resignation bid that he later withdrew.

Singh was appointed as the UP BJP chief in July 2019 after Mahendra Nath Pandey was re-elected to the Lok Sabha and joined the Narendra Modi-led central government. After completing the left-over period of Pandey’s term, Singh was re-elected as the state party chief for a three-year tenure in 2020.

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Going by the trend of such appointments in the past, UP BJP insiders are claiming that a party leader belonging to an upper caste may be named as the new state president in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, given the saffron party’s continued focus on backwards and Dalits, the names of leaders from these sections are also doing the rounds as probables for the state party chief’s post.

The BJP central leadership has often appointed a Brahmin leader as the UP party chief ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. In the run-up to the 2009 general elections, it appointed Ramapati Ram Tripathi as the state party chief. Ahead of the 2014 polls, Laxmikant Bajpai was appointed to this position. And Mahendra Nath Pandey was named as the state chief ahead of the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Among the notable names doing the rounds in the party circles as Singh’s replacement are Mathura MLA and ex-power minister Shrikant Sharma, former deputy CM Dinesh Sharma, Aligarh MP Satish Kumar Gautam, and Kannauj MP Subrat Pathak, all of whom are Brahmin leaders.

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The BJP leadership was said to have started looking for Singh’s replacement soon after the party’s triumph in the UP polls for the consecutive second term in March, when he joined the Adityanath ministry 2.0, in accordance with its “one man-one post” policy.

“Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is a Kshatriya from eastern UP; one of the deputy CMs, Keshav Prasad Maurya, is a prominent OBC leader from central UP and another deputy CM Brajesh Pathak is a Brahmin leader from the Awadh region of central UP. Party is most likely to pick a Brahmin face from western UP, Bundelkhand or Braj region as the next state president for the sake of regional balance. Also, to get the support of upper caste voters, party is most likely to pick a Brahmin party chief. But there are also a couple of Dalit leaders in the race for the state president’s position,” said a BJP leader.

Another leader said nothing is certain in the party, when such key decisions are taken by Prime Minister Modi and Shah. “Also when the party programmes are run under the direct monitoring of the central leadership, the role of the state president becomes a rubber stamp only. While Singh was busy as a minister, the party conducted its micro-donation collection from party workers in April, launched a series of programmes including sahbhoj (community lunch) and seminars in every district on Bhimrao Ambedkar’s life and thoughts in the same month, and later launched booth strengthening programme. Now, the party is gearing up for Har Ghar Tiranga programme that has to be organised on a grand scale next month,” said the leader.

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Singh, however, can boast of a string of achievements during his tenure at the helm of the UP BJP, which saw the party returning to power in the state besides winning a number of MLC seats and wresting Azamgarh and Rampur parliamentary seats from the SP in the bypolls.

First published on: 30-07-2022 at 05:53:06 pm
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