‘Yogi managed effectively’: BJP’s BL Santhosh backs UP govt’s handling of 2nd Covid crisis

File photo of B. L. Santhosh | Photo: @blsanthosh | Twitter

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Lucknow: BJP national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh has given a clean chit to the Yogi Adityanath government, which has been facing questions over its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, including from its own ministers and leaders.

In two tweets Wednesday, Santhosh, in fact, praised the Uttar Pradesh government’s efforts during the pandemic.

“In five weeks, Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh reduced the new daily case count by 93 per cent,” he tweeted. “Remember it’s a state with a 20+ crore population. When municipality CMs could not manage a city of 1.5 crore population, Yogiji has managed quite effectively.”

In his second tweet, Santhosh wrote, “The UP government led by CM Yogi decided to vaccinate parents of children below 12 years. A wise move, considering the logic that if at all a third wave hits, it may affect children more. Parents will be around to look after them more safely.”

The tweets may put an end to speculation about the possible implications of the central BJP leadership taking a hard look at the Yogi government’s mismanagement of Covid-19.

Santhosh was in Lucknow for three days but left Wednesday, after gathering feedback on the Yogi government and the party’s preparations for the coming assembly elections.

Although BJP officials called it part of a review exercise on the functioning of the party, they had created a buzz on possible changes in the party organisation as well as the government.

Also read: PM Modi lauds ‘Team India’ for united fight against Covid, evades blame for oxygen shortage

Took feedback from 15 ministers

During his visit, along with Uttar Pradesh BJP in-charge Radha Mohan Singh, Santhosh met 15 ministers of the Yogi government over the course of the three days.

This included both deputy chief ministers, Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma; cabinet ministers Swami Prasad Maurya, Brajesh Pathak, Mahendra Singh, Jai Pratap Singh, Suresh Khanna, Anil Rajbhar, Dara Singh Chauhan, Ashutosh Tandon; ministers of state (independent) Ashok Kataria, Satish Dwivedi, Swati Singh and ministers of state Gulab Devi and Mohsin Raza.

“The reason behind meeting 15 out of 53 ministers is that these 15 people represent the whole government,” a state BJP leader, on the condition of anonymity, told ThePrint.

“Both deputy CMs were there to provide feedback on the overall performance of the government. Jai Pratap Singh (Health Minister) and Suresh Khanna (Medical Education) were called to give feedback on Covid management. Mahendra Singh (Jal Shakti), Ashok Kataria (Transport), Satish Dwivedi (Primary Education), Swati Singh (Women Empowerment) were called to discuss issues regarding their ministries as there were some issues with them.

“Brajesh Pathak is the cabinet’s Brahmin face while Gulab Devi is the Dalit in the government,” the leader added. “Dara Singh Chauhan, Anil Rajbhar and Swami Prasad Maurya represent OBC while Mohsin represents minorities. So they were also called for this. They were also asked if they are willing to accept organisation-related responsibilities too.”

What the ministers spoke in their meetings

Sources in the BJP told ThePrint that the ministers raised a number of issues in their meetings with B.L. Santhosh.

According to a BJP leader considered close to Keshav Maurya, the deputy chief minister complained that civil servants were not listening to BJP legislators.

“During the meeting, he (Keshav) raised concerns that party leaders and workers were being ignored by the government. He also cited examples of several leaders, including MLAs, not being able to help people during the Covid crisis as district magistrates and other officials were not listening to them,” the leader said.

“He wanted action against such officials. Keshavji also mentioned that he wasn’t aware of important government decisions on tacking Covid as both deputy CMs are not part of so-called Team 9 or 11.”

A second BJP office-bearer said that the other deputy CM, Dinesh Sharma, called for better organisation between the party and the government.

“Dinesh Sharma didn’t give any negative response about the government but he agrees that coordination between government and organisation should increase because elections are just seven months away,” the office-bearer said. “As we all know, Sharma is in everyone’s good book. So he answers things in a silent manner.”

Following the meeting Tuesday, however, Sharma and Maurya had different versions of what was discussed.

“The meeting was about preparations for the upcoming assembly elections,” Maurya told the media present. “We will win 300 seats in the 2022 polls.”

Sharma, however, said, “The meeting was only about Covid management and plans regarding organisation efforts in this phase.”

Among those in the Cabinet, Primary Education Minister Satish Dwivedi left the BJP office in Lucknow through the back door after his meeting Tuesday.

“He did not want to face the media as he is facing allegations of helping his brother get a job as an assistant professor on the basis of a fake EWS (economically weaker section) certificate,” a source close to Dwivedi said.

“He has also been facing allegations of ignoring party workers’ work related to his department. This matter was also discussed during the meeting. He put forward his version in front of B.L. Santosh and Radha Mohan.”

Also read: Nephew among two arrested for throwing Covid victim’s body into river from bridge in UP

‘Future plans also decided’

A senior state BJP leader told ThePrint that the party has chalked out a future course of action to better handle the pandemic.

“Three major points were discussed during the meeting. Firstly, a plan finalised about visiting BJP families that have lost members in this Covid phase. Ministers and party leaders will visit these families,” the leader said. “The second major discussion was on coordination between the government and organisation. Keshavji had a separate meeting with both the leaders. The third major concern was about the preparations for the coming zila panchayat elections.”

The leader added that there were similar discussions between Santhosh and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

“The second phase of their meeting in which both met Yogiji later in the evening also saw similar discussions. Both Santhoshji and Radha Mohanji have given the feedback of workers that action should be taken against officials who are the reason behind the denting of the UP government’s image during Covid phase,” the leader added. “There was a discussion on filling posts in several commissions that are vacant, and accommodating BJP-minded people in them.”

A senior BJP functionary added, “This was a closed-door review meeting. Now B.L. Santhoshji will give his feedback to the party high command.

“Something will definitely happen but not as of now. Our primary focus is to put our house in order first.”

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: After meeting Modi, top RSS leader spends 4 days in UP assessing Yogi govt’s dented image


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