The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership has maintained silence over whether to project a chief ministerial face for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls or not. Of the four major political parties in the state -- BJP, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party, the BJP alone has not announced a chief ministerial candidate.
While SP’s Akhilesh Yadav (incumbent) and the BSP’s Mayawati are the obvious candidates from both parties, the Congress too last month declared former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit as its nominee.
For the BJP, the decision not to go ahead with a face into the elections has tongues wagging. While some believe it is a crisis of leadership, others believe that the decision is part of a well-thought strategy. Recently, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma admitted that some time back that the party was considering three chief ministerial faces, but couldn’t reach an agreement.
Several state leaders and their supporters have also send out a message about their preferences. Among state leaders who have got strong backing from their supporters for the role include, Sultan MP Varun Gandhi, Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, state unit president Keshav Prasad Maurya. Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Rajnath Singh’s name are also on the list of leaders who may lead the BJP’s fight in the biggest battle since last general elections.
With several names doing the rounds, there are also a few who see this as an opportunity to lend their weight behind their own candidature. The latest name to be included in the list is BJP MP from Bhadohi Virendra Singh.
Singh believes that the BJP should project a farmer as its chief ministerial candidate in the state where assembly polls will be held early next year.
“The next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh should be a farmer because majority of population depends upon farming activities. It is very important to have a greater focus on farmers welfare. Our policies should be pro-farmer so that changes can be brought in the agriculture sector,” he said.
“After Chaudhary Charan Singh, Kalyan Singh, Mulayam Singh and Rajnath Singh not a single Chief Minister has knowledge about the problems faced of our farmers. I strongly say this… and now time has come when a farmer should be given the charge of the state. I am sure the state will do good under the leadership of a farmer CM,” he added.
“Being a farmer, I want to become the chief minister of state. If the party decides to project a farmer as its CM face, I am ready to accept the responsibility. I put my candidature forward… I am ready to lead the state,” he replied to a question.
Attacking Congress for playing Brahmin and Muslim cards to woo electorate just ahead of the polls, he said, “Playing politics in the name of caste and religion is not a right thing. Uttar Pradesh is a crucial state and a farmer can only take it on the path of development… a farmer can only address their problems.”
When asked about the BJP’s agenda for the next year’s assembly polls, he said, “The first is farmers’ welfare, second is law and order situation and third is development.”
The lawmaker also expressed confidence that the saffron party’s 14 years of political exile in the state will end in 2017.
To a question about the politics being played over Bulandshahr and Barelly gang rape cases, he said, “This is very unfortunate. Azam Khan is a senior leader… and I believe everybody should restrain from abusing each other. When law and order situation deteriorates, obviously there will be reactions, but that doesn’t mean political leaders should stoop to this level.”
The Samajwadi Party is facing criticism from several quarters over deteriorated law and order situation in state. Azam Khan had recently termed the Bulandshahr gangrape a ‘political conspiracy’ to tarnish the image Akhilesh Yadav government.
On the recently passed GST Bill, he said, “I thank Prime Minister Modiji for bringing this historic legislation. I am sure that it will benefit the people of my constituency who are associated with the carpet industry.”
Bhadohi is biggest carpet manufacturing centres in India, most known for its hand-knotted carpet. It is also known as ‘Carpet City’. Bhadohi alone employs over 22 lakh rural artisans in its 100 percent export-oriented industry. Bhadohi based organisations account for about 75 per cent of the Rs 4400 crore of total carpet exports from India.