Who will be the Chief Ministerial face of Uttar Pradesh?

BJP is set to emerge as the single largest party in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections! Various opinion polls are giving BJP a clear mandate! With the elections round the corner, all the political parties have adapted election mode! BJP had witnessed a thumping victory of 73 out of 80 seats in 2014 Loksabha elections  due to Narendra Modi’s charismatic leadership! Now, with 403 strong Assembly seats, BJP needs to win 202 seats to form a government!

Most of the state elections fought by BJP are without the announcement of the Chief Ministerial candidate!  Their announcement of CM candidate in Delhi had backfired whereas not declaring CM candidate had cost them Bihar! Now, in UP, they have to tread the path very carefully! As per a BJP functionary, a formal decision on whether or not to project a CM candidate would be taken only after consultation among top BJP leaders and RSS ! If the party decides to project a face, it will be announced at a later date.

Caste being a dominant factor in UP, BJP needs to strike a caste balance between the proposed CM face and the Party President! The Caste arithmetic with the balance between high caste and low caste has to be hit. Age of the candidate is also an important criterion.

Here are the few shortlisted names probably to be projected as the CM face:

  1. Rajnath Singh– Having been the CM of UP between 2000 and 2002, Rajnath Singh has been the Upper caste leader at the helm the state! Being the seniormost leader from the state, he is the most acceptable face of CM within the party and the state as well! However the present Home Minister is not willing to return to the State politics.
  2. Smriti Irani– Present Textile Minister, Smriti Irani has risen in the politics due to her powerful oratory skills! She has the capacity to steer the election campaign in the right direction! In the caste-ridden state like UP, her  Delhi based multi-racial family background might prove as a  plus point . Aversion on the basis of caste will be avoided. But all said and done, Smriti Irani is inexperienced in UP politics.
  3. Varun Gandhi– This MP of Sultanpur has the famous political surname to his credit! Varun Gandhi has been working in the state for more than a decade now. Last year his mother, Maneka Gandhi had expressed a desire of her son to be the face of CM in UP. His alleged  affiliations with the Congress Party might hinder BJP to entrust the big post to him. But still, he is definitely one of the projected youthful CM candidate!
  4. Yogi Adityanath– Yogi Adityanath has a huge vote base in eastern UP! He has represented Gorakhpur constituency for five consecutive terms. He is a popular figure for his pro-Hindutva attitude and commands a large following in eastern UP! Totally untainted by corruption and his dedicated work for the right-wing cause are the positive points in his favor! As a rajput, he can attract upper caste votes which are 20%.. Being a Hindu icon, he has the ability to attract OBC votes too which comprise of 40% of the vote share!  But there is a risk of polarization of minority votes if he is projected as a face of CM!
  5. Mahesh Sharma– Union Minister for Culture and Tourism, Dr Mahesh Sharma is one of PM Modi’s trusted men. Dr Sharma has been very active at ground work in UP. He has the goodwill of RSS. He fits the profile of upper caste CM face.Among the other probable contenders for the CM post are Kalyan Singh, Kalraj Mishra  and Laxmikant Bajpeyi.In his latest interview, Rajnath Singh affirmed that UP people will move away from the barriers of Caste, creed and religion and vote for development!

    In a nutshell, BJP needs a CM face that will take on Akhilesh Yadav and Mayavati.  Let’s wait till the BJP puts their cards in open!

    Jyothi Suparna Chincholi