New Delhi: The volatile and sensitive political equations of Uttar Pradesh are once again in hot waters after the sitting BJP chief of the state, Mahendra Nath Pandey, was inducted into the Narendra Modi cabinet.

Pandey won with a thumping margin from the rather difficult seat of Chandauli, adjacent to PM’s own Varanasi and Ghazipur that the BJP lost. His position will have to be filled soon as BJP’s Mission 2022 is set afoot in UP.  

Let us look at the most probable names that top BJP sources have revealed.

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Manoj Sinha

One of the top runners is Ghazipur’s Manoj Sinha, who lost the seat to the SP-BSP-RLD gathbandhan candidate this time.

As Sinha was a minister in the last Modi council of ministers, BJP sources said that his name was being considered to accommodate him somehow, given that he is a leader of tall stature.

But, Sinha’s biggest drawback, apart from having lost the elections in this Modi wave that was bigger than before in 2014, in popular perception he is considered to be chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s competition. According to MyNation’s information, his name is already facing opposition from within the state.

Also read: Breaking: Amit Shah takes helm of home ministry: What makes him Modi’s right hand?

A chief minister as powerful as Adityanath would rather not tolerate a possible parallel locus of power and politics.
Another debilitating factor for Sinha is that he is not considered very connected to the party workers on the ground and not a known commodity across the state, especially western UP.

“He will have to introduced to party workers in a big part of the state,” is how a top BJP leader from UP put it. “He can be the face, but party organisation will have to implement and work,” he added.

A factor that can play for Sinha is that Pandey is Brahmin and he could be replaced by upper caste. Sinha comes from a numerically minuscule but locally dominant Bhumihar Brahmin community.

Vidyasagar Sonkar

He is general secretary in BJP’s UP unit. He is ex-MP from Ghazipurand sitting MLC. He is a resident of Jaunpur in eastern UP. He had contested the legislative assembly polls in Saidpur seat in 2017, but lost.

He is a strong Dalit face of the party and fits perfectly in the pro-poor avatar of the BJP. He even fits in the numerical equations of eastern UP against BSP, considering that the state will go to crucial assembly polls in 2022.

He is also considered a close of the RSS.

Swatantra Dev Singh

This BJP leader who goes by the name given to him by the RSS, as he was earlier known as Congress Singh, could be the dark horse in this contest for leading the party in its strongest bastion.

He is a strong OBC face. He comes from the Kurmi caste and could be BJP’s own way of pushing out Apna Dal from Kurmi politics in the state.

His credentials as OBC leader can also rally non-Yadav OBCs that have emerged as BJP’s stronghold in the state and a counter to the SP narrative of Yadav consolidation.

His biggest forte is his popularity with grass-roots workers of the party and his acceptance all across the state. “He is a very familiar face for the BJP workers in the state. He can go in any mandal and take a meeting without any introduction,” is how BJP leaders put it.

While he too was in the race for the position of UP chief minister, Yogi Adityanath was chosen. He comes from Urai in Bundelkhand, but belongs to eastern UP’s Mirzapur.

Mahesh Sharma

The former Union minister in PM Modi’s 2014 council, he won the Gautam Budh seat this time but failed to make it to the council. His name is also being circulated but on a rather weak note.
Sharma is a Brahmin face and looking to be rehabilitated after being dropped from the Union council of ministers.