Manoj Sinha likely BJP pick to head UP



With less than 24 hours left for a formal announcement, Union Minister Manoj Sinha appears to be leading the race for the post of Uttar Pradesh chief minister, even as the BJP top brass sifts through names for Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony in Lucknow.

On Friday, Sinha, who has been avoiding the media after the BJP’s landslide mandate in UP, remarked, “Neither am I aware of any race nor am I in one.”

A BJP leader said the three-time MP from Ghazipur was emerging as the consensus choice to head UP.

Sinha has been in the good books of the prime minister as he is considered a low profile, but hardworking minister.

Modi rewarded him with the additional charge of telecom in the last cabinet reshuffle.

He also holds the portfolio of minister of state for railways. Other contenders for the top post are party’s UP unit president Keshav Prasad Maurya, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma.

BJP president Amit Shah left everyone guessing on Thursday when he commented that Maurya has been asked to select the chief minister, which prompted the party MP to say that he was out of the contention for the top slot.

Party sources said the final decision would be taken later in the night after a go-ahead from Modi and Shah.

BJP central leaders are also making calls to MLAs who are expected to take oath on Sunday. Among them is Phulpur Pawai MLA Arun Kumar Yadav, who was asked to forward his profile to state general secretary Sunil Bansal.

The party is looking to give representation to the most backward castes within the scheduled castes and other backward classes, which played a crucial role in the party sweeping the election. It is also going for a regional balance between the eastern and western parts of the state.

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