The BJP has once again proved that it can win state elections with big margins without even announcing its chief ministerial candidates. After Jharkhand, Haryana and Maharashtra, the saffron party stuck to the same tactics in Uttar Pradesh too where it was relying heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charismatic leadership.
Now that the trends indicate a clear majority for BJP, who are the possible CM faces from the BJP camp? Here’s a look at the contenders who will lead UP from Lucknow central.
The last BJP chief minister that Uttar Pradesh had in 2002, Rajnath Singh may turn out to be a natural choice for the saffron party. Singh, an MP from Lucknow, tirelessly campaigned in the state addressing nearly 120. A two-time BJP national president, Singh has been a major figure in the party after stalwarts Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani took a backseat.
Singh's impressive political portfolio makes him one of the top contenders for CM's post.
The other contender from the Modi cabinet is Union telecom minister Manoj Sinha. This highly-educated BJP strategist also enjoys a good repo with the Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah. Sinha is also considered the all-knowing man of the BJP who has information on each and every seat of Uttar Pradesh.
Keshav Prasad Maurya
The BJP state president represents the influential Maurya caste, the largest demographic segment among non-Yadav OBCs. Maurya was in charge of party's back-end operations and organisational responsibilities. Maurya also enjoys a good repo with the Sangh and is also in good books of Modi and party president Amit Shah.
Another minister from the Modi cabinet, Mahesh Sharma fits the profile of upper-caste CM face in UP. The Union culture and tourism minister has Sangh's backing and is considered as Modi's trusted men.
The firebrand leader with Hindutva leanings is also being touted as the chief ministerial candidate. However, his chances of leading the BJP government are very slim as the party would not want to marginalise minority community due to his hardliner image in the run-up to the next general elections.
(With inputs from agencies)