Minister of State for Railways 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.
A senior BJP leader, who declined to be named as the party was still keeping suspense over the post alive, told 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.
The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader greeted onlookers and supporters as he walked to the Kaal Bhairav temple.
After spending some time there, he went to the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple and offered prayers at the sanctum sanctorum.
Surrounded by elite commandoes and local policemen, the minister however refused to speak on any issue. Sinha then left for the Sankatmochan temple.
Sinha is said to be a “front runner” in the race for the state’s 32nd Chief Minister, sources said.
Although there was no official protocol issued for Sinha to visit Lucknow, a senior BJP leader said: “If needed he would be flown in a special chartered plane to the state capital”.
The 312 newly elected BJP lawmakers are set to meet at the Lok Bhawan – new secretariat building built by outgoing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, at 5 p.m. on Saturday evening where the leader of the legislature party will be elected.
Senior central BJP leaders M. Venkaiah Naidu, Bhupendra Yadav, Om Mathur and Sunil Bansal will be present at the meet.
The swearing-in will take place at 5 p.m. on Sunday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and many other top central ministers.