Prime Minister Narendra Modi let himself to be persuaded by BJP president Amit Shah to name long-time BJP MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath as the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, BJP insiders said.
In a sudden move, Shah pushed for Adityanath’s name after Modi’s proposal for Union Minister of State Manoj Sinha met with heavy resistance from several leaders. The BJP also encountered difficulty in finding support for a few other names that were on the minds of the central leaders.
The intense lobbying by supporters of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and other state leaders made the selection process quite unwieldy at one stage.
Shah’s preference for Adityanath, a Rajput, came as a big surprise in the BJP circles. But it found a “wider acceptance” among the new MLAs for whom the ‘mahant’ or head priest of the Gorakhnath temple in the state’s eastern city of Gorakhpur had campaigned in the elections.
For the first time, Shah had got Adityanath to campaign in all the regions of the state, including the west. According to the party’s surveys, Adityanath was the second most sought-after campaigner in the Assembly elections after the prime minister.
He addressed more than 100 rallies while Modi held 20-odd meetings. A five-term Lok Sabha member, Adityanath was showcased alongside the prime minister as the mascot of the party’s Hindutva-wrapped agenda of development.
The firebrand leader, on his part, took care to refrain from making too controversial or rabble-rousing remarks during the campaign this time.
He confined himself to hard-hitting speeches on the state’s law and order situation under the Samajwadi Party rule.