Amid the BJP ruling out any change of guard in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday (June 11) met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for over an hour.
In a state where the BJP remains unchallenged in terms of its strength in the Assembly (306 in a 403-member House), the significance of a series of meetings that Adityanath has had over the last two days with top party leaders has come to mean that state-level changes are very much in the offing.
Speculation has been rife in the state capital, Lucknow, over the outcome of Adityanath’s meetings: many say intraparty dissensions over COVID management comprise the key elements of current discussions. Others say the BJP has started preparing the ground for Assembly polls due in about a year, and that how the party should let the steam off the disgruntled MLAs’ minds.
Both situations are serious enough: in early May, Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, who is from Bareilly, had shot off a letter to the CM flagging his concerns over shortage of medical oxygen and black marketing of medical equipment in his constituency.
Earlier, BJP MLA Kesar Singh Gangwar (64) had succumbed to the virus in a super specialty facility in Noida after initial treatment in a Bareilly hospital. The MLA was shifted after his son had bitterly complained about the quality of treatment in the Bareilly hospital.
The COVID situation has led several party MLAs to amplify their unease with the Adityanath dispensation, with many openly saying that the CM was not available and that he has centralized too much powers to himself.
The CM’s two-day Delhi visit came a day after Congress’ Jitin Prasada joined the BJP, indicating a bigger role for him in the run-up to the assembly polls.
Party sources say a cabinet reshuffle in the Adityanath team can be expected anytime. That would serve two objectives: it would give a chance to the MLAs to have a greater say in the power setup and help correct the optics concerning the party functioning in the wake of its severe criticism over COVID mismanagement.
The party is also concerned about the fallout from a prolonged farmers’ protest against new agricultural laws, especially in west UP, as well as a lackadaisical performance of the party in the panchayat and local polls in which BJP suffered setbacks in its traditional strongholds of Ayodhya and Varanasi.