After much speculation about who is going to be the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, BJP seems to have finally decided who should take the seat. Although this decision is to be approved by elected MLAs on Saturday, sources tell us that the choice is finalized.
Manoj Sinha seems to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s choice to be Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. In neighbouring Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat, national secretary of the party, could be the party’s choice to lead the state for next five years. An announcement to this effect will be made after designated party observers’ meetings with MLAs in Lucknow on Saturday.
Sinha’s imminent elevation to the top post in the politically critical and biggest Hindi heartland state is yet another indicator that Modi and Shah place a higher premium on merit than on any other consideration. A tall well-built Sinha, an alumnus of IIT-BHU in civil engineering, is a three-time MP. As Union Minister of Communication (Independent charge) and minister of state of Railways, he maintains a conscious low profile but is seen as a sincere quiet doer, whose work speaks more than his words.
His biggest asset is being at equal ease when dealing with the biggest corporate honchos in the communication ministry as with earthly labour unions in the railways. Long ago, he was the BHU Students Union president. He is soft-spoken, suave and articulate, but wears a dhoti and a long kurta, which gives him that rugged son-of-the-soil look and feel.
While in the run-up to the elections and upon the declaration of poll results, a lot had been said about the social engineering effected by Modi and Shah, but by choosing Sinha, they have sent out a clear message that caste and community considerations don’t guide their preference on issues relating to governance and as such, the caste of the person at the helm is immaterial. In the last public meeting Modi had addressed in Varanasi just before the last phase of campaigning ended, he went to great lengths to praise Sinha for the work he was doing as railway minister.
What was initially considered a handicap for Sinha — his Bhumihar caste is limited only to a few districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh — turned out to be his advantage. Sinha became a caste-neutral chief ministerial contender just like Devendra Fadnavis in Maharastra, Vijay Rupani in Gujarat, Raghubar Das in Jharkhand, Manoharlal Khattar in Haryana. Even though Shivraj Singh Chouhan belongs to the OBC category, his caste and its numerical strength is not known to the wider world.