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Yogi in Delhi, meets Amit Shah to discuss poll roadmap

NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: Ruling out the possibility of any change of guard in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, the BJP leaders on Thursday started drawing roadmap for the state assembly polls as home minister Amit Shah had a long meeting with state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the two leaders were joined by the alliance partner Anupriya Patel, the president of Apna Dal.
The UP CM called on Shah a day before his scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president JP Nadda, giving signals about possible expansion of the Union cabinet as well as the state, an exercise seen as politically imperative in view of the upcoming assembly polls in the most populous state next year. The meeting gained further significance when Mirzapur MP and former Union minister Anupriya Patel joined the two BJP leaders at Shah’s residence here. Patel was a junior minister in Modi-1 but didn’t join the government in 2019 even as she contested the Lok sabha polls and also the 2017 assembly polls as an NDA partner.
Patel is daughter of veteran Kurmi leader the late Sonelal Patel and holds sway over Kurmi voters in eastern UP including regions like Varanasi and Sultanpur.
Sources said the expansion of the central cabinet is imminent with vacancies lying and many leaders waiting for responsibilities at Centre for months.
These include Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sarbanand Sonowal, Sushil Modi and Patel, whose inclusion is also seen as a foregone conclusion before assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
When Yogi and Shah were havig their meeting, Nadda called on PM Modi on the day of a series of meetings, giving indications about the possibility of the expansion at the Centre, which has been delayed due to Covid infections. Representation from UP in the central ministry is also likely to increase to balance caste arithmetic before state polls. Besides, there are speculations about expansion of the state ministry as well as changes in the party organisation in the state, which is also said to be discussed among the top party leaders.
Inviting Adityanath for the crucial meetings in the national capital is seen as a strong message to his detractors as the party top brass and the RSS are said to have a consensus that the assembly polls will be contested under Yogi and on the performance of his government.
Party general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh was on a two-day visit to the state during which he held meetings with the party leaders including a few aspirants, considered to be unhappy with the Adityanath dispensation, who are also seen responsible for floating speculative reports about change of guard in the state.
Significantly, Modi, while addressing health workers in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi, had highlighted Adityanath’s success in taming encephalitis, endemic to eastern UP and the bordering regions of Bihar and Nepal, as an example of what could be achieved by a leadership which is clear-eyed and focused on objectives.
“Only six months are left for the poll process to start. The party has to focus on planning the roadmap. Rumours about leadership change are baseless,” a senior BJP leader told TOI.
Adityanath reached the national capital a day after the high profile joining of Jitin Prasada, who called on the Uttar Pradesh chief minister as well as another senior leader from the state, defence minister Rajnath Singh.
On Friday Yogi is expected to brief the PM and BJP chief about the measures taken by his government – including speedy vaccination — to tackle the second wave and steps initiated to battle the possible third wave of Covid, which, experts fear, could potentially affect the children.
Nevertheless, the development set the political corridors abuzz with fresh speculations about the changes in his government. CM Yogi, during an interview with TOI, has categorically scotched speculations about BJP leadership asserting itself on the UP government and had termed it not more than a fig of media imagination.
The BJP leadership has been keenly assessing the possible impact of pandemic on the electoral fortunes of the party in the poll bound states. Significantly, the party had rolled out its organisational machinery to provide relief to the pandmeic stricken people under its ambitious `Sewa Hi Sangathan’ programme.

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