Mr Sinha apparently had an upper hand, but he was edged out after home minister Rajnath Singh pushed his case.
Now that the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls are over, the focus is shifting to the election of the President and vice-president as the term of the incumbents will end in another three months. As is to be expected, the political grapevine in Delhi is abuzz with possible candidates for the posts. And if the names being discussed are any indication, it promises to be an all-women show. Former Union minister and Manipur governor Najma Heptulla tops the list as she has been lobbying furiously for one of these posts for the past three decades. Former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, who was stripped of her post last year, is also one of the probables. She was apparently offered a governor’s post, but she declined. BJP’s insiders maintain that Ms Patel’s rehabilitation is under consideration as the party needs to placate the unhappy Patel community ahead of the forthcoming Gujarat Assembly polls. This is ironical as Ms Patel was removed as chief minister because of her poor handling of the Patel agitation. Meanwhile, Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu is being talked about as a possible contender for the President’s post. Her plus points: she is a woman, a tribal and is said to have acquitted herself well as the governor. Union minister Sushma Swaraj’s name is also doing the rounds. There are murmurs that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scouting around for a serious high-profile candidate from the South as the BJP’s next target is to establish itself in the southern states.
There has been intense speculation about Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s health for several months now, but there is no clarity on it. According to the latest reports, Mr Patnaik has been advised to go to the United States for treatment for an undisclosed ailment but the chief minister is delaying his departure because he is unsure about who should discharge his responsibilities in his absence. Not only is Mr Patnaik a loner he also does not trust anybody. He does not want to hand over the reins to anybody in his party for fear of a coup in his absence. It is said that he has asked his US-based sister Gita Mehta to hold fort while he is away. As a first step, she may be inducted into the Rajya Sabha. This speculation has gained ground after Mr Patnaik suddenly asked senior party leader Bishnu Charan Das to resign from the Upper House last week. Earlier there had been reports that Mr Patnaik wanted to anoint his nephew Arun, son of his brother Prem Patnaik, as his successor. Now into his fourth term, Mr Patnaik retains an iron grip over the Biju Janata Dal, as he is ruthless in crushing any opposition from within the party.
Well-known actor Jaya Bachchan has entered the Rajya Sabha on a Samajawdi Party ticket, but she maintains cordial relations with the ruling BJP. In fact, she is reported to have told a BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh that from among her family members, her son Abhishek Bachchan is a great admirer of the party and that its leadership should invite him to join the party.
Ms Bachchan’s detractors maintain that she is extending a hand of friendship to the BJP as her Rajya Sabha term ends next year and given the Samajwadi Party’s strength in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, it will not have the numbers to nominate her to the Upper House again. In any case, her husband, Amitabh Bachchan, is known to be close to the BJP, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is a brand ambassador for Gujarat government and the Modi government’s flagship programme Swachch Bharat for which he has not taken any payment.
By now, it is well known that Union telecom minister Manoj Sinha and Gorakhpur MP Adityanath Yogi were the final contenders for the post of Uttar Pradesh chief minister. Mr Sinha apparently had an upper hand, but he was edged out after home minister Rajnath Singh pushed his case. This apparently did not go down well with the Prime Minister or BJP president Amit Shah who felt that Mr Singh had proposed
Mr Sinha’s name only to stop the Yogi from getting the top post. It is no secret that Mr Singh is wary of the prominence given to the Yogi as he does not want to witness the emergence of a rival thakur leader. At present, Mr Singh is considered to be the tallest thakur leader in UP, but he is bound to be overshadowed by the Yogi now that he has taken charge as chief minister. Meanwhile, a sulking Manoj Sinha is expected to get a promotion when the PM reshuffles his Cabinet to compensate him for losing out on the chief minister’s post.