Lucknow, Mar 19: Springing a surprise, the BJP on Saturday nominated firebrand saffron leader Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. UP BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya and Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma are the deputy chief ministers.
Adityanath, the ‘mahant’ (head priest) of the famous Gorakhnath Peeth in Gorakhpur, was unanimously elected leader of the BJP Legislature Party at its meeting here in the presence of Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu and BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, who were sent in as observers.
“Adityanath was elected unanimously at the meeting of the legislators,” Naidu told reporters. Naidu said no other name was proposed at the meeting.
Adityanath (44), the Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur, met Governor Ram Naik and staked claim to form the government. He will be sworn in as the 21st chief minister of the state on Sunday.
The other members of the cabinet would be announced on Sunday, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.
Much drama preceded Adityanath’s nomination. In the afternoon, his name started making the rounds, replacing that of Union minister Manoj Sinha and others as likely candidates for the top post.
Adityanath rushed to Delhi, where he had a long meeting with BJP president Amit Shah and vice president Om Mathur. Later, Adityanath went to Lucknow with Maurya and Mathur.
Adityanath was closeted with Naidu and Bhupendra for around 30 minutes, after which they participated in the meeting of the legislators.
The suspense over the chief minister continued till the last minute and none of the 325 legislators from the BJP and its allies seemed to have any inkling of the party’s choice.
Naidu said after his election as leader of the legislature party, Adityanath urged the party leadership to let two senior colleagues assist him in administration. Naidu said on his request, the party leadership allowed Adityanath to have two deputies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah would be present at the swearing-in ceremony.
“The chief ministers of the states ruled by the BJP and its alliance partners have also been invited to attend the oath-taking ceremony,” Naidu said.
He said the mandate for the BJP in the UP polls was historic, adding, “It is a watershed moment for the BJP. It has proved that the nation wants to move with Modi.”
The main agenda of the party in UP would be development and good governance, he said.
“It’s a mandate against corruption, black money, caste and communal politics... people have supported us cutting across caste lines,” Naidu added. “We will together ensure the development of UP, and end goonda raj,” Adityanath said, addressing the newly elected legislators of the BJP and its alliance partners Apna Dal and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party.
Sources said BJP MLA from Shahjahanpur Sauresh Khanna moved the proposal for electing Adityanath as the leader of the legislature party.
A large number of Adityanath supporters descended on the state capital from Gorakhpur and nearby districts and chanted slogans in his favour outside the venue of the meeting. Even before the polls, his supporters had demanded that he be declared the chief ministerial face of the party. Adityanath was one of the star campaigners of the BJP and addressed close to 100 election meetings in different parts of the state.
Who is Adityanath?
-Firebrand Hindutva advocate, Adityanath’s remarks often trigger controversy
-Head priest at Gorakhnath temple; founder of vigilante group Hindu Yuva Vahini
-Won Gorakhpur seat five times; at 26 was youngest member of 12th Lok Sabha
-Had differences with BJP in the past; in 2007 over ticket distribution