Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday joined senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders for lunch at the home of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, as the ruling party geared up for the assembly polls just months away.
RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale and two other functionaries, Krishna Gopal and Anil, spent an hour and a half at Maurya's house, where the chief minister and another deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma were also present.
The meeting was described as 'informal' and the guests blessed Maurya's recently married son and daughter-in-law.
But some significance is being seen in this being the 'first time' that the CM has dropped in at the official residence of his deputy, located close to his own in Lucknow.
Recently, replying to reporters' queries in Bareilly, Maurya had said the Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentary board will decide under whose leadership the next assembly elections are to be fought, a remark interpreted by the opposition as a sign of a rift between the two.
A party spokesperson had dismissed the comment as the BJP's traditional stance, but Maurya had been seen as a likely candidate for the CM's post before the party chose Adityanath the last time.
Earlier, on Monday, Adityanath, his deputies Sharma and Maurya, and RSS leaders Hosabale Krishna Gopal had met BJP national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh and BJP vice-president and Uttar Pradesh in-charge Radha Mohan Singh at the CM's home.
The two central BJP leaders also met the party office bearers at the state unit headquarters on Tuesday.
A Maurya aide said Tuesday's lunch was the first time that Adityanath visited the deputy CM's official residence.
But before this, the CM had visited Maurya's family home in Kaushambi district in October 2018, when the deputy CM's father Shyam Lal Maurya passed away.
Maurya presented a saffron 'angavastra' to Adityanath and white ones to his other lunch guests. His family posed for photographs with them.
His son Yogesh Kumar Maurya married Anjali Maurya on May 21.
Apart from Keshav Prasad Maurya, state Labour Minister Swami Prasad Maurya has suggested that it is up to the party's central leadership to take a call on the next CM.
But state unit president Swatantra Dev Singh told reporters that the 2022 polls will be contested under Adityanath's leadership.
When asked about the 'confusion' recently, spokesperson Harishchandra Srivastava played down the issue.
"Swatantra Dev is the state unit president and what he has said is important. What Keshav Prasad Maurya and Swami Prasad Maurya have said is on the basis of the party's norms and traditions," he said.
"Formally, the announcement of the chief minister's name is made by the parliamentary board, and so Keshav Prasad Maurya and Swami Prasad Maurya would have said this," Srivastava added.
Opposition Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav pounced Monday on the 'conflicting' remarks.
"Voices of dissent against UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have started to emerge from within the party. Two responsible ministers have said that after the elections, the centre (central leadership) will decide who will be the chief minister. This situation in the state politics is laughable," he said.