Uttar Pradesh minister Swami Prasad Maurya has said the state's next chief minister will be decided by the Bharatiya Janata Party's central leadership after the assembly polls, prompting the Samajwadi Party to suggest that the ruling party is divided on the leadership issue.
The labour minister made the remark Sunday at the Bharatiya Janata Party's state headquarter here while replying to a question from reporters.
"The chief minister will be finalised by the central leadership after the Assembly elections," Maurya said.
The remark appeared to go against the statements made earlier by other party leaders who suggested earlier that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will be the party's CM face again in the assembly elections early next year.
Last week in Etah, BJP's state unit president Swatantra Dev Singh said the polls will be contested under Adityanath's leadership.
"Corruption and hooliganism have ended and development is taking place. We will fight the 2022 elections under the hardworking and honest chief minister Yogi Adityanath," Singh had told reporters.
But Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya had earlier said in Bareilly that the party's national leadership will decide under whom the upcoming elections will be fought.
When asked if there was any confusion in the party over this, BJP 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.
In a statement, however, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav termed the situation 'laughable'.
"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.
The opposition leader's statement comes on a day when BJPs national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh and UP in-charge Radha Mohan Singh are on a visit to the state, meeting leaders from the party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
This is the second visit to Lucknow by the two central BJP leaders this month as the party gears up for the assembly elections.
During their last visit, they had shot down speculation that change in leadership in the state was imminent.