Adityanath stakes claim to form govt, all set for mega swearing-in event Friday

LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI, Mar 24: Yogi Adityanath on Thursday staked claim to form the government in Uttar Pradesh for the second time, a day ahead of his swearing in as chief minister at a mega event which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a slew of dignitaries.

Adityanath met Governor Anandiben Patel after the BJP legislature party elected him as its leader, confirming a decision taken by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s top brass.

Soon after the BJP MLAs’ meeting in Lucknow, Nishad Party leader Sanjay Nishad and Apna Dal (S) chief Ashish Patel presented letters of support for the BJP to Governor Patel.

Later, Adityanath reached the Raj Bhavan to stake his party’s claim. The BJP won 255 seats – 273 along with the allies – in the 403-member assembly.

This is only the second time in over three decades that a party has won two consecutive assembly polls in the state.

At the meeting of the party’s newly elected MLAs, Adityanath said the prime minister’s inclusive ‘mantra’ of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” had its impact on the UP poll results, and thanked him and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for “guiding” him through the first term.

PM Modi, senior BJP leaders including CMs from other states, and dignitaries from across different fields will attend the swearing-in ceremony at a Lucknow stadium on Friday.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who attended the BJP MLAs’ meeting as an observer, said the party’s successes in UP since 2014 has established that people favoured the “politics of performance” over that of “casteism and appeasement”.

In Delhi on Thursday, top BJP leaders gave the final touches to the government formation exercise in Uttar Pradesh and a party source said that the state could have two deputy chief ministers this time as well.

Outgoing deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and former Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya are seen as the frontrunners for the two posts.

BJP president J P Nadda and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was the party’s in-charge for the state polls, too were involved in the deliberations.

The leaders discussed factors like maintaining caste and regional balance in the new UP cabinet.

Baby Rani Maurya, a member of the influential Jatav community from the Scheduled Castes, is widely tipped for an important place in the new government. She had resigned as Uttarakhand governor to fight the assembly polls.

Brijesh Pathak, a minister in the outgoing government, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantar Dev Singh and A K Sharma, a former bureaucrat considered close to Modi, are also seen as probables for key positions, including deputy CMs if the party seeks to bring in new faces.

Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will participate in Friday’s event.

Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and 60 other business tycoons have also been invited.

Roads leading to Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, the venue for the event, have been decorated with lights. Cut-outs of Modi, Shah and Adityanath are in place.

Samajwadi Party president chief Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary, who fought the polls as allies, said they won’t attend the event.

Invites were sent to the state’s opposition leaders, UP BJP general secretary J P S Rathore confirmed to PTI.

Adityanath has personally sent invitations to over 50 seers, including those from Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi, party leaders said.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s state-level functionary Dinesh Shankar said prominent seers, along with members of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, have been invited.

Yoga guru Ramdev, “The Kashmir Files” director Vivek Agnihotri and actor Anupam Kher are on the list.

The venue has the capacity to accommodate 50,000 people. About 8,000 police personnel will be deployed for the event, an official said.

At the MLAs’ meeting, Amit Shah said Uttar Pradesh faced political instability for a long time due to “casteist and dynastic parties”.

“In the past 37 years, no party got full majority again in Uttar Pradesh,” he said, referring to his party’s trend-breaking two-time victory.

“It is historic that the BJP is the only party which got over two-thirds of the seats for the second consecutive time,” the home minister added.

Shah said Adityanath ended politicisation of administration and decriminalised politics. “This assured everyone that law and order will come into action if someone files a complaint.”

Adityanath said he had no administrative experience when he became chief minister for the first time and thanked Modi and Shah for guiding him to provide good governance in Uttar Pradesh.

“People for the first time felt that houses for the poor could also be built. For the first time, it was felt that money could go directly into the accounts of the poor,” he said. Festivals can now be celebrated in a peaceful manner, he added. (PTI)