Bharatiya Janata Party vice president Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday dismissed speculation over any change of leadership in Uttar Pradesh and called the state government's handling of the Covid pandemic ”unparalleled”.
Singh and BJP's national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh are on a three-day visit to Lucknow, meeting party leaders on "preparations to fight Covid" and what participants called ”organisational” issues.
The party vice president met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief ministers Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Maurya on Monday. On Tuesday, the two deputy chief ministers met Santhosh.
When asked about speculation over ”leadership change” in the state, Singh dismissed it as a figment of someone's imagination.
"Generally, BJP review meetings take place twice a month, but this time there was a gap due to Covid-19. At the meeting, the seva (service) done by us was reviewed. Apart from this, the party's preparations for a possible third wave of Covid were also discussed,” he told PTI on Tuesday.
On his interaction with the central team, Deputy Chief Minister Maurya said, ”The meeting went on very well, and it was from the organisational point of view”
“We are going to register a historic win in the 2022 assembly elections. We will cross the 300-seat mark in that election," he said.
Elections in UP are held for 403 seats.
Another senior Cabinet minister who met Santhosh said speculation over any leadership change was not discussed.
"The visit by B L Santhosh is a follow-up to the visit by BJP chief J P Nadda (in January). This is a routine visit, and was delayed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.
Santhosh had a dinner meeting with the chief minister on Monday. He also met Law Minister Brijesh Pathak.
Pathak said they discussed organisational matters and the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, but refused to elaborate.
In April, social media carried a "confidential" letter by the law minister complaining that beds for Covid patients were falling short in the state capital and ambulances took hours to arrive.
The minister had not rejected the authenticity of the letter, which appeared to challenge the state government's claim that it was on top of the situation.
Singh trashed charges of laxity by the Adityanath government during the second surge of Covid-19.
"Earlier, when I came to Lucknow from Kolkata at the height of the pandemic, the leaders of the rest of the parties were in quarantine. It was only BJP leaders and workers who were rendering service to people," he said.
Apart from murmurs from within the BJP in the state, the opposition parties have also slammed the Adityanath government's handling of the crisis and plan to project it as major issue in the assembly polls.
But Singh said the chief minister reached out to the ”last person” during the Covid surge, and mentioned the ”praise” from the World Health Organization (WHO) of the state's handling of the pandemic.
“This pandemic was beyond everyone's control. Despite this, the chief minister's work was better compared to other states. The work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during the pandemic was unparalleled,” he said.
He also recalled Modi's handling of the Gujarat earthquake two decades back as the state's then chief minister.
He said the BJP has done well in the recent panchayat polls, after which both the ruling and the opposition had claimed major successes.
"It is for the first time that the BJP won so many seats in the panchayat polls and the tally of the Samajwadi Party, which used to win, has come down considerably,” he said.
“We have significantly strengthened our presence in the zila panchayats and most of the independents are with us," he claimed.
In a meeting Monday at the state BJP headquarters between the visiting leaders and the UP unit office bearers, the party decided to intensify its "Seva Hi Sangathan" campaign.
Party workers will reach out to those affected by Covid-19, extend help to them and promote vaccination. At least one young member and one woman worker should visit each village in the state, the party said.