Speculations of a possible change of guard in Uttar Pradesh were further fueled on Saturday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda did not publicly wish Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on his birthday. However, sources said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Home Minister’s Office (HMO) and Nadda called Adityanath instead of posting on social media sites. President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, former UP CM and BSP supremo Mayawati, former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan, other chief ministers and governors also sent their wishes to Adityanath.
Some netizens and journalists observed that there is no birthday greetings for the UP chief minister from the party’s top brass and questioned if all was well between Adityanath and the central leadership. The UP Assembly elections are due next year, and a recent meeting of B L Santosh, BJP’s National General Secretary (Organisation), with the state leaders has given rise to a number of speculations and, thus, the questions.
But if one looks at the Twitter timeline of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then all the questions will be answered. An active social media account of the PMO is often seen wishing birthdays to his cabinet colleagues, colleagues in the party, opposition leaders, prominent citizens and world leaders. But for quite some time there have been no birthday wishes from the PMO’s Twitter handle.
A few prominent examples include senior minister in the Modi cabinet, Nitin Gadkari’s birthday on May 27, cabinet colleague Thawarchand Gehlot’s birthday on May 18 and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s birthday on May 24. The prime minister also did not wish Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on May 3, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar on May 5.
A closer look at the prime minister’s official handle shows that recent tweets have only been focused on Covid-19 and related meetings with officials or international government. His tweets also include condolence messages for those who have passed away due to the virus.
Those who are in the know of the development, tell us that not just Prime Minister Narendra Modi but a similar pattern has been noticed in the timeline of Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JPNadda too. In view of the seriousness of the second Covid wave and the kind of damage it has done to the lives and livelihood of people, the top brass of the BJP would want to sound extremely sensitive towards the citizens.
Ahead of the elections, a lot of speculations have been doing the rounds, and will continue to do so in the days to come but government sources indicate that not wishing a chief minister on his birthday does not signify that he is running out of favour with the party of the government.
The BJP has firmly ruled out the possibility of a change in leadership in Uttar Pradesh and dismissed reports that Yogi Adityanath’s government is in jeopardy over its handling of the Covid-19 situation, but the cabinet could still witness changes in the year leading up to the UP elections. Former bureaucrat AK Sharma, who is believed to be one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s close advisers, may be given a key post in the UP government.
Gujarat cadre IAS officer A K Sharma joined the BJP in January this year after taking voluntary retirement from the service. Sharma, a 1988 batch officer from Mau district in Uttar Pradesh, is considered close to PM Modi and had worked with him in Gujarat.
On Tuesday night BL Santhosh praised the CM’s “effective management” of the Covid-19 situation in a tweet, putting an end to all rumours about change of leadership in the state. The BJP’s UP in-charge, Radha Mohan Singh, in fact termed such a theory a “figment of someone’s imagination”. Both of them spent the last two days in Lucknow and took part in closed-door meetings. All pointers indicate towards Adityanath continuing to enjoy the full backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
The assessment at the Centre is that Adityanath is the party’s best bet in UP, as he remains hugely popular because of his governance model, hard work on the ground and clean image — which have earned him the trust of the top BJP leadership.