NEW DELHI: As BJP shifts focus to the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh due next year after its resounding victory in Assam, the party is likely to rope in former chief minister Kalyan Singh as the leader of its election campaign in the state.
According to a report in Anandabazar Patrika, Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh will soon return to active politics and will lead BJP's election campaign for UP elections.
The report, however, maintained that Kalyan Singh, who was at the helm of affairs in the state during the Babri Masjid demolition, will not be projected as chief ministerial candidate.
Kalyan, who has been chief minister twice, was convicted for a day by the Supreme Court on October 24, 1994, for violating the commitment made to the Supreme Court on ensuring the safety and protection of the Babri Masjid. He went out of the BJP on two occasions but returned to its fold.
The report also said that Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani, will not be the party's face in upcoming UP elections.
The buzz around Irani as prospective UP chief ministerial candidate had gained momentum after her Parliament speech on the JNU controversy.
An intra-party debate had also reported to have begun whether Irani – who had nothing to do with Uttar Pradesh until she contested against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in the 2014 general election – is the right person to lead the BJP in a make-or-mar election.
Some feared that Irani might turn out a “disaster” like Kiran Bedi, the police boss declared the chief ministerial candidate days before the Delhi elections but rejected by the cadres.
But some argued that the “ambiguity” over Irani’s social antecedents – her father’s a Punjabi and her mother a Bengali – might be an asset.
Irani has maintained her Amethi connect and visits the place once or twice every month.
Recently, in a surprise appointment the BJP named OBC leader and its Lok Sabha MP Keshav Prasad Maurya as the head of party's Uttar Pradesh unit.
In the caste-ridden state, the BJP cannot hope to gain power without the support of the backwards, particularly non-Yadavs, given that Dalits have always backed Mayawati. But party managers worry that too much emphasis on backwards may annoy upper castes and send them towards Mayawati.