New Delhi/Lucknow: Minister of State for Railways and a "rebel" in RSS book since his days as students leader, Manoj Sinha is "almost" certain to be the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, even as BJP state President Keshav Prasad Maurya was still in the race, informed sources said on Saturday.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and eight-time MLA from Shahjahanpur Suresh Khanna are also in the race for the top key post in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP will form its government after 15 years.
But, a senior BJP leader, who declined to be named as the party was still keeping suspense over the post alive, told IANS that Sinha has emerged as the top choice to head the Uttar Pradesh government after strong backing from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party President Amit Shah.
"It is almost decided. The announcement is likely to be made after the (newly-elected) BJP MLAs meet in Lucknow" on Saturday evening, the BJP leader said.
Manoj Sinha was in Varanasi yesterday where he offered prayers at Sankatmochan temple.
Sinha, a native of Gajipur district in eastern UP, gained admission to the prestigious BHU in mid-70s, the thick of the Emergency era. His association with the ABVP soon brought out the political activist in this engineering undergraduate.
Differences between Sinha and Rajnath Singh and other RSS leaders date back to the this era when a section within the RSS favoured a joint and coordinated student movement during Emergency. But some of the ABVP leaders were not ready to give up the outfit’s unique identity.
"It was this clash of ideas that set the stage for a section of the ABVP to face-off against the RSS-supported candidates at BHU. And Sinha was the face of this struggle with the Sangh", according to News18.
Sinha later won the election for the post of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students’ union president as a rebel candidate, fighting against the candidates supported by a section of the ABVP and the RSS. The rebel in Sinha never fit into Rajnath Singh’s scheme of things in the state.
Meanwhile, newly-elected BJP MLAs in Uttar Pradesh will be meeting in Lucknow today to elect the leader of the state legislature party.
The meeting will be held at 4 PM at Lok Bhawan, state BJP spokesperson Manish Dixit said.
Central observers - Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav -- will remain present at the meeting to elect the chief minister.
BJP vice-president Om Mathur, state party chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and other senior party leaders are also likely to attend the meet.
"The new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh along with his Cabinet colleagues would take oath on March 19 at 5.00 PM at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan," Governor Ram Naik had said in a statement yesterday.